With pharma exiting Alzheimer’s research, new hope (and urgency) seen in the combination of brain training and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)


What does the future hold for the war on Alzheimer’s? (The Globe and Mail):

After spend­ing huge sums on clin­i­cal trails in recent years, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try has failed to find a drug that can halt the mind-rob­bing dis­ease. And this month, Pfiz­er announced it is end­ing its Alzheimer’s research, although oth­er com­pa­nies haven’t thrown in the tow­el yet. But oth­er pre­ven­tion mea­sures are being explored.

Sev­er­al Toron­to hos­pi­tals are involved in an ambi­tious $10-mil­lion, five-year study to deter­mine whether a com­bi­na­tion of cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion – men­tal exer­cis­es – plus elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion of the brain can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s demen­tia as well as oth­er forms of dementia…The goal is to increase “cog­ni­tive reserve” so that patients are able to con­tin­ue func­tion­ing almost nor­mal­ly even as the dis­ease advances, says Dr. Benoit Mul­sant, the study’s lead prin­ci­pal investigator…

Dr. Mul­sant and his fel­low researchers are try­ing to boost cog­ni­tive reserve with a com­bi­na­tion of com­put­er-based brain-train­ing exer­cis­es and tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion (tDCS), a mild elec­tri­cal stim­u­lus that puts brain cells into learn­ing mode.

It’s hoped this approach will strength­en the pre­frontal cor­tex, a part of the brain that plays a key role in “exec­u­tive func­tions,” such as prob­lem solv­ing, plan­ning and reasoning.

To suc­cess­ful­ly pre­vent Alzheimer’s demen­tia, we don’t need to block it com­plete­ly – we just need to delay it by five or 10 years,” explains Dr. Mul­sant, who is chair of the depart­ment of psy­chi­a­try at Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to and a clin­i­cal sci­en­tist at the Cen­tre for Addic­tion and Men­tal Health (CAMH).”

The Study

PACt-MD study, at the Cen­tre for Addic­tion and Men­tal Health

  • Descrip­tion: The PACt-MD (Pre­ven­tion of Alzheimer’s Demen­tia with Cog­ni­tive Reme­di­a­tion plus Tran­scra­nial Direct Cur­rent Stim­u­la­tion in Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment and Depres­sion) study is com­bin­ing two nov­el inter­ven­tions to deter­mine whether they can pre­vent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s demen­tia. Cur­rent treat­ments for Alzheimer’s demen­tia (AD) start after a patient already shows symp­toms of demen­tia. Old­er adults with depres­sion or mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment have a sig­nif­i­cant­ly ele­vat­ed risk for AD, even if they do not yet show symp­toms. How­ev­er, there are cur­rent­ly no pre­ven­tive treat­ments to pro­tect these old­er adults against AD. This study is exam­in­ing the com­bi­na­tion of two nov­el inter­ven­tions – tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion (tDCS) and cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion ther­a­py – to pro­tect against AD in patients with depres­sion or mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment. The study is fund­ed by Brain Cana­da and car­ried out by researchers in CAMH’s Geri­atric Psy­chi­a­try Divi­sion in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bay­crest, St. Michael’s Hos­pi­tal, Sun­ny­brook Health Sci­ences Cen­tre and Uni­ver­si­ty Health Network.

The Study in Context

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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