Study Finds Low-Dose Lithium Helps Treat Alzheimer's Disease

Whether lithium is helpful for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease has been a controversy. Due to the different approaches, conditions, formulations, timing, and dosages of treatment, results are difficult to compare. In addition, continued supply with a high dosage of lithium renders many serious effects on the brain making this approach unsuitable for long term treatments especially.

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A recent study by a team of researchers led by Dr. Claudio Cuello of McGill University in Canada found that when the element is used to assist drugs through the blood-brain barrier, lithium in doses to 1/400 of the current mental therapy drug can alleviate the physical symptoms of Alzheimer's pathology such as amyloid plaques and of recovering lost cognitive abilities.

Dr. Cuello pointed out that past research has found that the use of low-dose lithium in the formulation of the drug has quite positive results for experimental mice with similar early Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, the team hopes to further investigate whether the experimental mice with advanced Alzheimer's disease can help halt the disease.

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In experimental mice with similar Alzheimer's disease, the team found that low-dose lithium-based agents could still slow the disease and improve its cognitive status in the later stages of the disease. Dr. Cuello said, "From a practical point of view our findings show that micro-doses of the element in formulations such as the one we used, which facilitates passage to the brain through the brain-blood barrier while minimizing levels of the element in the blood, sparing individuals from adverse effects, should find immediate therapeutic applications."

Dr. Cuello further states two directions worthy of the development of the research. The first is to study whether lithium can be combined with other drugs to give better efficacy. The second is to use this new pharmaceutical formula to conduct clinical trials on populations with preclinical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. If the pharmaceutical formula can be used on the human body and has a better curative effect, it will be great progress in the development of Alzheimer's drugs.

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