from Sky News:
Patients have been implanted with a tiny “brain pacemaker” in an attempt to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.
Three patients were fitted with the device, which fires electric pulses into surrounding cells, as part of the ground-breaking trial.
Doctors report that it reduced the speed at which their brain function declined. In two patients, the effects were significant.
Patient groups are warning that the study shows the technique has no major side effects, but many more patients will need to be treated to prove that it works.
Dr Douglas Scharre, who led the research at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, said: “The study was for 18 months, not just a brief window, so it had a prolonged effect on these patients.”
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has already proved highly effective in more than 130,000 patients with Parkinson’s disease.
But for the first time, doctors implanted thin electrodes in the frontal lobe of three patients with Alzheimer’s. A device similar to a heart pacemaker was then used to stimulate the brain tissue.
Dr Scharre said: “The frontal lobes are responsible for our abilities to solve problems, organise and plan, and utilise good judgements.