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).”
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
- Solving the Brain Fitness Puzzle Is the Key to Self-Empowered Aging
- Important insights on the growing home use of tDCS brain stimulation: older-than-expected users, positive self-reported results for treatment of depression but negative for self-enhancement, and a couple areas of concern (severe burns, frequency)
- Five reasons the future of brain enhancement is digital, pervasive and (hopefully) bright
- Session on the future of brain health, brain training and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) at the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: