There are no medications to prevent dementia, which affects nearly a million people in the UK. But there might be a breakthrough soon as scientists have discovered that shock therapy can cure dementia.
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Researchers have discovered a mechanism to repair ‘misfolded’ proteins related to dementia, bringing the possibility of a cure one step closer.
A ‘shock’ to cells can repair the aberrant build-up of proteins called amyloid beta in the brain, according to researchers, reports Daily Mail.
Whenever these proteins are misfolded, they get sticky on the outside and cluster together to generate plaques, which are believed to destroy brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Heat shock proteins, which are activated by high body temperatures, have been discovered to reverse this misfolding.
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This might answer why individuals who use saunas regularly in Finland are less susceptible to develop dementia.
The research, which was partially financed by the Alzheimer’s Society, is still in its early phases, according to the researchers from the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.
‘Optimistically, in the future we could find a drug to awaken this mechanism we have discovered and prevent diseases like dementia,’ said Dr. Edward Avezov, the study’s senior author.
There are no medications to prevent dementia, which affects nearly a million people in the UK.
Amyloid beta clusters in the brain have been difficult to eradicate.
The research, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests a way to prevent the build-up.
However, shocking people can generate stress, which can destroy brain cells. As a result, researchers are looking for a means to cause a comparable response inside the brain, which could lead to the development of a medicine.
The study was a ‘game-changer for dementia research,’ according to Dr. Richard Oakley, associate director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society.
He went on to say that it was a ‘step toward effective and safe treatments’ for dementia patients.
Professor Tara Spires-Jones, from the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘This study adds to previous work which similarly showed stressing cells with cold instead of heat can protect them from misfolded proteins. But a drug which targets these mechanisms is likely to be many years away.’