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Lithium may benefit Alzheimer's sufferers


Research on Alzheimer’s in rats might help humans.

28 February 2020

Lithium, which is used in the treatment of conditions such as bipolar disorder, has been found to have positive benefits for treating Alzheimer’s disease in rats.

Researchers in Canada gave a lithium-containing formulation to older rats that had been genetically altered to express mutated human proteins that cause Alzheimer’s. The formulation comprised lithium encapsulated in a water-in-oil emulsion designed to cross the blood brain barrier.

The formulation was found to reduce symptoms and improve cognition in rats with advanced Alzheimer’s-like disease.

‘The results showed a remarkable diminishing of the pathology, as well as reduced inflammation’ said senior researcher Claudio Cuello at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. ‘There was also reduced neurodegeneration in the hippocampus and more importantly improvements in cognition.’

A previous study has shown that the same formulation reduced amyloid-related brain illness in three-month old rats.

Sounding a cautionary note, psychiatrist Mark Good at Cardiff University said ‘One should remain cautious in speculating how well these findings might transfer to the clinic. GM animals are models of preclinical brain pathology based on rare early-onset genetic mutations and often combine mutations to drive pathology, which is not the case in the more prevalent, late-onset cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

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