A group of researchers at Southampton University have made an important discovery about the relationship between brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s Disease. Through careful study and comparison of healthy human brains and human brains with Alzheimer’s Disease, they discovered that immune cells called microglia are present in higher numbers with Alzheimer’s Disease than they are in healthy brains.

The scientists are using a group of mice bred to develop an Alzheimer’s-like condition to learn more about how the disease develops in humans. They injected one group of these mice with a chemical that limits the microglia cells. The mice that received this treatment had fewer overall behavioral and memory problems than the group of mice that did not get injections. The chemical injections worked to maintain a healthy level of microglia for a functional immune response in a healthy brain. The injections did not control another known cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, though. Amyloid plaques in both groups of mice did not respond to the chemical treatment that controlled the microglia.

While scientists and researchers used to believe that inflammation in the brain was a side-effect of Alzheimer’s Disease, they are starting to understand, through studies like the Southampton University microglia experiment, that inflammation is actually a cause of the progression of this disease.

Working the with pharmaceutical industry

“This is a very exciting and robust paper from a highly respected group of scientists. The findings raise the realistic prospect of targeting CSFR1 activation to inhibit the development of dementia in those with the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Because drugs that inhibit CSFR1 activation are already in the clinic for other applications, this might be achievable much more quickly than starting from scratch with a new drug.” -Paul Morgan, director of Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity University Research Institute

Some scientists believe that the missing information about inflammation and microglia may explain why previous attempts by the pharmaceutical industry to control the disease have been unsuccessful. Currently, there are no treatments that can slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease in the human brain. These new discoveries help make a strong case for supporting and strengthening other types of cells within the brain as part of a prevention and treatment plan.

The Southampton team will work with the pharmaceutical industry to find a drug that can be tested on humans. Our hope is that because there are already CSFR1 inhibiting drugs on the market, this discovery will lead to a fast and effective intervention for people suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease. For more information about how professional home care services helps people with various types of dementia stay in their own homes longer, please contact us. Learn about our services and our residential memory care facility by visiting our website.