Scientists claim to have reversed memory loss and cognitive impairments in 10 patients with early Alzheimer’s disease.
The small trial took place at the University of California, Los Angeles, and used a personalised combination of diet, changes to sleeping habits, medication and exercise for each sufferer.
According to those involved, the treatment worked that well that some patients returned to work and others regained the ability to speak different languages.
“All of these patients had either well-defined mild cognitive impairment, subjective cognitive impairment, or had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before beginning the program,” said Dr Dale Bredesen, one of the team involved. “Follow up testing showed some of the patients going from abnormal to normal.”
He said the tailor-made treatment is based on 36 different factors from medicine, to brain stimulation therapy and life-style changes. The treatment is called metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration, or MEND.
According to the researchers, it is the first time it has been proved memory loss can be reversed.
Mr Bredesen added: “The magnitude of improvement in these 10 patients is unprecedented, providing additional objective evidence that this programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective.
“Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well,” he said.
“The drug may have worked, and a single hole may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”
One of those who participated in the trial was a 69-year-old man who was closing his business after tests revealed he had the hallmarks of early Alzheimer’s. After going on the MEND programme, he was able to not only go back to work but also to expand his business.
Another test subject regained her ability to speak two different languages after nine months of treatment.
The study has been published in the journal Aging and the scientists were keen to point out that the trial was only a small one and the results would need to be replicated.