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Brain waves show promise against Alzheimer’s protein in mice

Flickering light induces nerve cells to trigger immune response to amyloid-beta

1:00pm, December 7, 2016
amyloid-beta comparison

RIDE THE WAVES Compared with a mouse that received random brain stimulation (right), a mouse stimulated to produce more gamma waves (left) had less amyloid-beta (green) in its hippocampus.

Flickering light kicks off brain waves that clean a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease out of mice’s brains, a new study shows. The results, described online December 7 in Nature, suggest a fundamentally new approach to counteracting Alzheimer’s.

Many potential therapies involve drugs that target amyloid-beta, the sticky protein that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In contrast, the new method used on mice causes certain nerve cells to fire at a specific rhythm, generating brain waves that researchers believe may clear A-beta.

“This is a very creative and innovative new approach to targeting brain amyloid load in Alzheimer’s,” says geriatric psychiatrist Paul Rosenberg of Johns Hopkins Medicine. But he cautions that the mouse results are preliminary.

Neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai of MIT and colleagues saw that mice engineered to

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