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Surprising Science

Two New Devices Treat Alzheimer’s

Development of drug treatments for Alzheimer’s has met one hurdle after another, so rather than treat Alzheimer’s patients chemically, two startups are targeting the brain electrically. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Two electrical treatments used to stimulate the memory of Alzheimer’s patients are currently being tested: deep-brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation. “In deep brain stimulation, electrical pulses are delivered to a dysfunctional part of the brain via a surgically implanted electrode, stimulating neural activity.” The Israeli company Neuronix, which is researching transcranial magnetic stimulation, “targets the stimulation to specific brain regions and combines it with cognitive training tasks designed to activate those regions.”

What’s the Big Idea?

After years of disappointing results from large pharmaceutical companies attempting to find a chemical treatment to combat Alzheimer’s disease, two small startup companies have two unique approaches that pioneer non-chemical, brain stimulation treatments Alzheimer’s patients. One aims to repeat the success that deep-brain stimulation has had with thousands of Parkinson’s patients. The other plans to use transcranial magnetic stimulation, a non-invasive procedure that has been used to treat depression and has been a research tool to inhibit or stimulate specific parts of the brain. 


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