Scientists make headway on dementia
A team of Japanese researchers has found that immunosuppressants are effective in preventing loss of brain cells, possibly paving the way for treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer's.
The researchers, mainly from the state-run National Institute of Radiological Sciences, published their findings in Thursday's issue of the U.S. scientific journal Neuron.
The researchers said the results might lead to the development of remedies for dementia.
The team administered radiological drugs to mice with neuronal cell loss to track microglia, cells that function as macrophages, or scavengers, in the central nervous system.
Microglia were found to be active already in the brains of 3-month-old mice.
By administering immunosuppressants, which curb the activation of microglia, the researchers reduced the loss of neuronal cells, and halved the shrinkage of the hippocampi, parts of the brain linked with memory, and one of the first regions to suffer damage from Alzheimer's.