Israel’s Tel Aviv University Team Develops Process That Could Provide Effective Treatment For The Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Israel’s Tel Aviv University Team Develops Process That Could Provide Effective Treatment For The Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

The new application of an enduring treatment method holds promise for preventative therapies 

Montreal, November 10, 2021: Today, dementia affects 341,098 Quebecers in one form or the other. With aging of baby boomers this likely to increase by an additional 45% by the year 2030. The leading cause of dementia can attributed to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This affects approximately 222,000 of our fellow citizens above the age of 65 suffering with dementia in Quebec. 

The impact of AD can be seen in several areas: 

  1. In the individual affected by AD will experience varying degrees of memory loss and impairment in cognitive function.
  2. Often the life of family members changes as they take on the duties of care providers.
  3. The cost of caring for a patient with AD or some other form of dementia is 5.5 times higher than someone without dementia

While certain treatments can help reduce symptoms and sometimes reduce disease progression, there is currently no way to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s.

But now researchers from Tel Aviv University have studied a treatment process that is showing promise in reversing the precursors of AD, providing a promising foundation for new preventative therapies. This is the first time that a non-drug therapy has proven effective in preventing the core biological processes that lead to the development of Alzheimer’s, providing hope that we will now be able to address the challenges of our aging population.

Early Signs of Alzheimers Israel’s Tel Aviv University Team Develops Process That Could Provide Effective Treatment For The Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), in which subjects breathe 100% oxygen in a special chamber of high atmospheric pressure, the researchers were able to reverse brain damages associated with the biological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

 “By treating the root problem that causes cognitive deterioration with age, we are in fact mapping out the way to prevention,” says co-lead researcher Prof. Shai Efrati.

“The use of atmospheric air under different degrees of barometric used in the treatment of disease” was recorded in April 18th 1885 edition of The British Medical Journal in an article entitled Lectures on the Compressed Air Bath and its Uses in the treatment of disease by Dr. C. Theodore Williams. Dr.  Williams goes on to describe treatment with pressurized air as “one of the most important advances of modern medicine; and when we consider the simplicity of the agent, the exact methods by which it may be applied and the precision with which it can be regulated to the requirements of each individual, we are astonished that ,in England, this method of treatment is so little used.” Today, the use of hyperbaric oxygen has evolved to a treatment option that addresses inflammation and hypoxia. Use therapeutically in a specific way hyperbaric therapy delivers oxygen to meet the metabolic needs of tissues in critical need. It has previously been found capable of repairing damaged brain tissue and renewing growth of blood vessels and nerve cells in the brain. Therefore, the research team from TAU tested its potential for Alzheimer’s.

“After a series of hyperbaric treatments, elderly patients who were already suffering from memory loss showed an improvement of blood flow to the brain as well as a real improvement in cognitive performance,” said co-lead investigator Prof. Uri Ashery.

The new approach devised by the researchers unequivocally improved characteristics commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the hyperbaric treatment resulted in:

  • Improved memory in 16.5% of patients on average
  • Increased cerebral blood flow in 16%-23% of cases
  • Improved attention and concentration in 6% of patients
  • Improved information processing speed in 10.3% of all cases

“Our findings provide hope that we will now be able to fight one of the greatest challenges to the Western world. According to our findings, hyperbaric therapy given at an earlier age is likely to prevent this severe disease entirely,” explains TAU team member Dr. Ronit Shapira. The approach was first tested in laboratory settings followed by testing in patients over the age of 65 in stages of deteriorating mental function that often precede Alzheimer’s and dementia. The comprehensive program included a series of 60 treatments in hyperbaric chambers over a period of 90 days.

The study is part of a comprehensive research program focused on reversing processes of aging and its accompanying ailments. The researchers note that the findings are an encouraging step toward new approaches to treating AD by addressing not only the symptoms or targeting biomarkers, but the core pathology and biology responsible for the disease’s development.

The Tel Aviv University team that led the study included Prof. Shai Efrati of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Prof. Uri Ashery and Dr. Pablo Blinder of the The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, and Dr. Ronit Shapira and Dr. Amir Hadanny. They are all affiliated with the Shamir Medical Center. The findings were published in the September 9, 2021 edition of Aging.