Researchers are giving new hope to the fight against Alzheimer’s. A new type of personalized treatment has reversed memory loss in ten patients who were in various stages of cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s or dementia. This new treatment is called metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND). It is a 36-point program that includes dietary changes, vitamin supplements, brain stimulation, and exercise.
Nine out of ten of the participants in this study carried one or two copies of the allele APOE4, which is found in 65 percent of Alzheimer’s cases. After receiving treatment through this study, many of the participants no longer met the criteria for their previous diagnosis. They were able to return to work and carry on with the lives that they had before becoming cognitively impaired. Follow-up testing showed that some participant’s brains went from being “abnormal” to “normal”.
One man in his mid-60s had severe shrinking in his hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, learning, and emotions. His hippocampal volume was in the 17th percentile for his age group at the beginning of the study. By the end of the study, its volume had increased to the 75th percentile. Another man who was in his late 60s had a hippocampal volume in the 3rd percentile for his age group. He was about to close his business due to his health. After 22 months of treatment, his hippocampal volume was in the 84th percentile. He was able to keep his business open.
The improvements seen in these participants are described as being unprecedented. When asked to explain why the MEND program seems to be so successful compared to other types of treatments, the lead researcher said, “Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well. The drug may have worked, a single 'hole' may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”