Implantable Device In Brain May Destroy Plaques That Lead To Alzheimer's Disease

By R. Siva Kumar - 19 Mar '16 11:09AM

Scientists have designed an implantable capsule that can help to build up a person's immunity against Alzheimer's disease.

Although the cause of the disease is not clear, scientists feel that the illness is due "over-accumulation of the protein amyloid beta" in various parts of the brain. Due to this, there are protein plaques that can be poisonous to neurons. Hence, it is important to get rid of amyloid beta proteins.

While studying the immune system, scientists have probed the clearance of amyloid beta-proteins before the beginning of the human cognitive decline. Earlier, scientists used repeated vaccine injections, which may lead to side effects. But now, they think that they have another solution to the problem.

Scientists have manufactured an implant to see that there is a steady supply of antibodies to the brain. A bioactive capsule containing cells that were genetically engineered to produce antibodies were used to fight against amyloid beta proteins. It is thus implanted in tissues under the skin after which it takes on the required roles.

Cells that are part of the capsule are genetically engineered to manufacture antibodies that can recognize amyloid beta proteins. After the cells are extracted from the muscle tissue, they interact with the surrounding tissues through permeable membranes, so that they can get nutrients and molecules that are required.

After testing the implant on mice, researchers found that there was a major reduction in the amyloid-beta plaque load once the device was implanted. The continuous capsule flow also did not permit the plaque formation over 39 weeks.

The study was illuminating, but much more research and experimentation needs to be done before the device can be used for implantation in humans.

The findings are published in the March 2016 journal Brain.

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