Therapeutic program reverses Alzheimer's memory loss, UCLA researcher says

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An intensive therapy regimen involving medication, diet and behavioral changes successfully reversed Alzheimer's-related memory loss in a first-of-its-kind trial, according to findings out of the University of California, Los Angeles.

The small study involved 10 people experiencing memory loss from Alzheimer's and other conditions. Of these, nine showed “subjective or objective” memory improvement within three to six months of starting the program, the UCLA investigator determined. Of six who had left their jobs or were struggling, all were able to return to work or continue working. The one patient who did not improve had late-stage Alzheimer's.

The improvements also have been lasting, with the longest duration being 2.5 years, according to study author Dale Bredesen, M.D., of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Research at UCLA and the Buck Institute. He described the results as “very encouraging,” but noted that a “more extensive, controlled clinical trial” is needed.

Bredesen also acknowledged that the complexity of the therapy is a drawback. It is a 36-point program, with the exact elements tailored to each person's condition. In one case, a participant eliminated gluten and simple carbohydrates, began yoga and meditation, went on hormone replacement therapy and daily vitamins, and began a regular exercise routine.

The multi-pronged approach is meant to address various changes wrought by Alzheimer's; drugs have failed because they attack a single aspect of the disease, which involves an “extensive network of molecular interactions.” Drug treatments have been akin to patching a single hole in a roof with dozens of leaks, said Bredesen.

Full findings appear in the journal Aging.