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Medicine: can blood washing stop dementia?


Scientists are testing blood wash therapy for dementia

The number of dementia patients is increasing dramatically and so far there are no treatment methods available that can stop the course or even achieve a cure. However, doctors at the Ernst Moritz Arndt University in Greifswald are currently testing an approach in the so-called IMAD study that has had a stabilizing effect on the memory capacity of previously treated patients - blood washing.

With a blood wash, the antibodies can be removed from the blood, which are directed against the body's own tissue and are related to the course of the disease in dementia. The method is currently being tested on patients at the Ernst Moritz Arndt University in Greifswald. In a press release, the scientists around Prof. Marcus Dörr from the Clinic for Internal Medicine B in Greifswald have now informed about the first results of the IMAD study. A final assessment is only possible after the study has been completed, but the results so far are very promising.

New treatment methods are urgently needed

Only a few drugs are currently available for the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's dementia, and effective causal treatment is not yet possible, the experts explain. The intensive efforts to develop new medicines have also been unsuccessful in the past. Effective treatment methods are urgently needed in view of the increasing number of people affected. In this country, forecasts predict an increase in dementia patients from the current 1.6 million to around 3 million by 2050 if the breakthrough in dementia research does not occur, the scientists report.

Antibodies are removed from the blood

The Greifswald IMAD study is currently testing a new therapeutic approach in which those affected receive a blood wash that removes certain antibodies from the blood. This treatment is based on the scientific assumption that the antibodies play a decisive role in regulating blood flow to the brain and thus in the development of Alzheimer's disease, according to the Ernst Moritz Arndt University in Greifswald.

Stabilization of memory performance

According to the experts, the treatment “aims to improve the blood supply in the brain in order to stabilize the memory of the patient.” The antibodies are removed using a procedure similar to dialysis in kidney patients. So far, seven patients have been treated with the new procedure in the course of the study. "The majority of the participating patients were able to demonstrate a stabilization of memory performance measured over a period of six to twelve months," the researchers report.

Looking for more study participants

In view of the low number of patients, a final assessment of the new therapeutic approach is not possible and the study has now been extended to 2019, the university said. Further study participants are therefore sought. On March 29, the scientists will provide information on the current status of the study in a public forum and also inform interested parties about the conditions of participation in the study. For example, only women and men between the ages of 55 and 85 from the Greifswald region with mild Alzheimer's dementia can be registered for the study. Further information on the conditions of participation can be found here. (fp)

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