Stem Cells for the Treatment of Dementia


Posted May 9, 2023 in More

Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative illness with no cure. According to the WHO, more than 55 million people have dementia worldwide. To make it worse, nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed yearly. 

There are a variety of brain-related diseases and injuries that may result in dementia. Among these, Alzheimer’s disease contributes to more than 60%-70% of the cases. In this article, you will learn how stem cell treatment for dementia is a ray of hope for people suffering from this disease.

How to diagnose the disease?

Currently, there is no medical test available to diagnose dementia. To help doctors pinpoint the problem, a number of tests are run. These include: 

  • laboratory tests
  • psychiatric evaluations
  • physical examinations
  • medical history reviews

The doctor might also request the family members to monitor the changes in a person’s day-to-day function and behavior. 

Once dementia is diagnosed, the next step is to determine the exact type of the disease. Recently, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers have been helpful in accurately diagnosing different types of dementia. If the behavioral and psychological symptoms are not managed timely, a person’s cognitive abilities, such as thinking and remembering, may drastically decline.

What are the current treatment options for the disease?

While there is no cure for dementia, several medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes may slow down its progression. All these treatment options help improve the person’s mental function, behavior, and mood. Treatments like stem cell for dementia have even helped patients repair damaged nerve cells The following table enlists the available treatment options.

Treatments for Dementia

Medications

Therapies

Lifestyle changes

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiolytics
  • Memantine (Namenda)
  • Antipsychotic medicines
  • Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST)
  • Reality orientation training
  • Reminiscence therapy
  • Stem cell treatment for dementia
  • Prioritize good sleep
  • Stay active
  • Focus on foods
  • Rethink the home
  • Challenge the brain
  • Stay organized

Why is it difficult to treat dementia?

While dementia is thought of as a single disease, it is, in fact, an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions that cause the parts of the brain to deteriorate over time. Not only is the condition difficult to diagnose, but it is also difficult for the drugs to reach the brain as the brain’s blood supply is separated from the rest of the body. Therefore, scientists are now focussing on non-pharmacologic interventions, such as stem cell therapy for dementia.

Can dementia be treated completely?

No, it can’t be treated completely. However, using stem cell for dementia treatment has proven to manage symptoms caused by the disease. This is made possible by stimulating the brain’s own repair processes. The therapy has the potential to repair the brain cells that are damaged and improve memory functions.

How do stem cells help in the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions? 

In stem cell for dementia treatment, a cell-based product is injected into the patient’s body where they get directly into the brain. Upon reaching the damaged areas of the brain, they secrete chemicals called growth factors which trigger neuro repair and regeneration.

Research on stem cells and dementia

It is extremely challenging to find a cure for neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. So much so that pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have halted their research into developing drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases. 

Instead, stem cell clinical trials are increased towards uncovering the way of action and the underlying therapeutic mechanisms and effects of transplanted cells that influence the regeneration and neuronal microenvironment within damaged and inflamed areas.

What results can be achieved from cell-based treatment for dementia?

According to the clinical trials and real patients’ cases, the following are some of the fascinating results that can be achieved from cell-based treatment for dementia:

  1. Improved brain health.
  2. Repaired nerve cells.
  3. Reduced swelling.
  4. Increased neuronal differentiation and neuronal survival.
  5. Increased acetylcholine levels.
  6. Activation of microglia.
  7. Improved cognitive functions.

“Understanding the role that glia play in repairing white matter damage is a critically important area of research that needs to be explored. These preliminary results suggest that glial [stem] cell-based therapies may one day help combat the white matter damage that many stroke and vascular dementia patients suffer every year.”

  • Francesca Bosetti, PhD, a program director at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, supported the study of UCLA demonstrating that a one-time injection of stem cells repairs damaged areas in the brain and improves memory function in mice with conditions with human-like neurological conditions like strokes and dementia.

Conclusion

Stem cell treatment has great potential to improve a patient’s quality of life by minimizing dementia-related symptoms and complications. Do you think stem cell therapy for the treatment of dementia is hype or hope? Let us know in the comments section below.

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