Stem Cell Therapy for Alzheimer's

Louis A. Cona, MD
Sep 5, 2022
4
min read

Stem cell therapy is a unique approach to treating Alzheimer’s Disease. It involves the systemic introduction of Mesenchymal Stem Cells into the body via IV. When introduced in large quantities, these stem cells can find inflammation within the body and repair it. This unique property of stem cells is what potentially makes them a viable treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. 

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What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, categorized by a steep decline in one’s ability to recall memory, think clearly and ultimately function independently. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative condition that results in the loss of brain cells. Generally, Alzheimer’s is associated with memory loss and the loss of simple cognitive abilities, impairing one’s ability to complete daily tasks. 


Alzheimer’s disease accounts for between 60%-80% of dementia cases worldwide. The condition usually affects people over the age of 60, but it can affect people as young as 30-40 years old. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.”

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease can become much more debilitating than simple memory loss. According to the Mayo Clinic (1) people with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Forget conversations, appointments, and names
  • Get lost easier, lose their sense of direction
  • Have difficulty finding the correct word to associate with a familiar object
  • Repeat questions and statements
  • Eventually, forget the names of friends and family members
  • Changes in personality or behaviour

These symptoms can significantly impair one’s ability to function at work or even at home, resulting in a loss of independence or self-sufficiency.

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

A combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors may cause the onset of Alzheimer’s.   The exact cause of the disease is currently unknown, but scientists do know that the emergence of Alzheimer’s coincides with the brain’s inability to function normally. 


Alzheimer’s may also be characterized by an increase in amyloid and tau protein buildup within the brain; though this is a symptom of Alzheimer’s, it has not been proven to be the cause of the disease.

Stem cell therapy for alzheimer's
Pictured: Alzheimer's in the brain, a buildup of Amyloid Plaques.

Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, although the condition is manageable to a certain degree with the proper treatments. Although these current treatments cannot stop the disease from progressing, it can slow the progression down as well as combat symptoms & improve quality of life.

Stem Cell Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease

Stem cell therapy for Alzheimer's may be able to:

  • Improve functional memory
  • Regenerate neurons
  • Improve overall functional recovery
  • Replace damaged cells with health cells


Stem cell therapy is a unique approach to treating Alzheimer’s Disease. It involves the systemic introduction of Mesenchymal Stem Cells into the body via IV. When introduced in large quantities, these stem cells can find inflammation within the body and repair it. This unique property of stem cells is what potentially makes them a viable treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. 

According to Lawrence Goldstein, Ph.D., The increased amount of plaques and tangles within the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient affect two essential proteins: ‘amyloid-beta’ and ‘tau.’ (2)

Stem cell treatment for Alzheimer's Disease aims to replace the damaged cells with healthy stem cells which can grow on their own, hence, creating new healthy brain cells.


How do stem cells help Alzheimer's?

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) or stromal stem cells can differentiate into many different types of cells within the body, including bone cells, cartilage, muscle cells, and even neural cells. They are primarily found in the bone marrow of every person and remain dormant until called upon to promote healing within the body. They age as we age, and their number and effectiveness decreases over the years. 

By sourcing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from donated cord tissue and expanding them to more significant numbers, the medical community has created the ability to supplement a person’s stem cell count through transplantation with younger, highly competent cells.

According to Sung S. Choi and colleagues in a 2014 study titled Alzheimer’s Disease and Stem Cell Therapy 

Stem cells have therapeutic effects using regeneration and substitution of cells and tissues themselves. The therapeutic strategy of stem cells has two directions. One is to induce the activation of endogenous stem cell, and the other is to regenerate the injured cell or tissues through stem cell transplantation” (3)

Stem cells can improve functional recovery for Alzheimer's

Choi continues to state that the transplantation of stem cells been able to improve functional recovery for Alzheimer’s Disease. Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) could promote survival, increased metabolic activity and help to rescue the AD cell model in vitro.

Chi also states that the transplantation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) has been able to reduce Aβ deposition, to improved memory and to alleviate the AD pathology in AD mouse models. 

What makes stem cell therapy for Alzheimer’s so exciting is its possibility to halt the progression of the disease as well as regenerate damaged neurons rather than just slowing it, or managing symptoms.  


Stem cell research for Alzheimer's Disease

Stem cell research has proven the safety of using mesenchymal stem cells to treat a range of conditions. (4)  The efficacy of stem cell therapy ranges as per condition however, the literature is well on its way to solidifying the effectiveness of treatment for certain conditions, Alzheimer's being one of them.



References:

1) Alzheimer’s Disease. (2018, December 8). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350447.

2) van der Kant, R., Goldstein, L.S.B. & Ossenkoppele, R. Amyloid-β-independent regulators of tau pathology in Alzheimer disease. Nat Rev Neurosci 21, 21–35 (2020) doi:10.1038/s41583-019-0240-3

3) Choi, S. S., Lee, S.-R., Kim, S. U., & Lee, H. J. (2014, March). Alzheimer's disease and stem cell therapy. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984956/.

4) Wei, L., Wei, Z. Z., Jiang, M. Q., Mohamad, O., & Yu, S. P. (2017, October). Stem cell transplantation therapy for multifaceted therapeutic benefits after stroke. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603356/.

About the author

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director | DVC Stem

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 10 years. He is a member of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (WAAAM). He is also a recognized member of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council (UK), the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is the Medical Director for DVC Stem a world-renowned stem cell therapy clinic located in Grand Cayman.

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