The onset of Alzheimer’s disease is thought by many to be related to the deposition of high concentrations of amyloid beta protein within the brain. If true, and there’s considerable evidence that it probably is, preventing the accumulation of amyloid beta may slow down or reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s. In a brilliant move, researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland created an implantable device that contains live cells that produce anti amyloid beta antibodies.
The cells loaded within the implant are genetically engineered, and can be sourced from persons other than the patient since they will never leave the implant and so don’t have to interact with the immune system. Once implanted under the skin, the cells begin producing the antibodies and releasing them into the blood. These travel to the brain where they stick to the amyloid beta. The brain’s immune system is then alerted to the new compound that it destroys and flushes out.
Amazingly, this was already tested in laboratory mice with Alzheimer’s. In two models of the disease, the implants significantly reduced the accumulation of amyloid beta in the mice brains compared to controls.
Here’s a cute explanation of how the technology works if the above was too heavy: