Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of the nerves in the brain. It mainly occurs in old age and is considered a heavy burden. The disease is caused by the accumulation of defective proteins in the brain. This protein waste accumulates in the brain cells and blocks their normal function. The more trash accumulates over time, the more severe is the manifestation of the disease.
In the beginning patients repeat themselves frequently. Then they forget how to cook or how to use electronic devices. Finally they don’t know how to handle money any more, misplace items, and lose the ability to maintain social contacts. An almost as hard fate meets the relatives due to the high care requirements for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
This hopeless situation could possibly soon be a thing of the past – recent studies in mice have lead into an interesting direction: In one study stem cells extracted from human adipose tissue (adipose-derived stem cells, ADSC) were administered into the bloodstream of mice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease through a vein. These stem cells reached the brain similarly to stem cells that were injected directly into the cerebral blood vessels. Thus a simple access path is assured even in nervous diseases in the brain.
The stem cells from adipose tissue supplied during stem cell therapy were effective in different ways. They reduced the protein waste, prevented further accumulation, and gave neuroprotective signals to their environment. However, the really interesting thing was the difference between treated and untreated mice. As it’s not possible to speak to the animals directly to determine if they are cured, a way through a maze has been trained with the mice. The treated mice were able to remember the way after a few training sessions and found the target more easily than the untreated mice. In contrast, the untreated mice – in spite of the training – had to explore all the ways again and again to reach the target because of the constant forgetting.
The effectiveness of stem cells from adipose tissue could be shown both at the cellular level as well as in the “real life” of mice. This therapy has a healing effect on already existing symptoms as well as protecting effect against the disease.
Because of these and similar promising study results we perform therapies with autologous stem cells from fat in people who suffer from certain diseases of the nervous system in our Clinic DDr. Heinrich® in Vienna.
First, a small portion of fat is gently harvested under local anesthesia. Then the mesenchymal stem cells contained in the fat are extracted. Like in the study the stem cells are – depending on the indication – either supplied to the patient systemically or injected locally into the area of the damaged nerves. In the case of systemic supply the stem cells independently find their way to the sites of the body where their regenerative potential is required.
DDr. Heinrich, MD