Brain Energetics May Hold The Key to Finding Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease

Chennai, August 5 2017: “There is a need to diversify and evolve an integrated approach for discovering effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. A promising approach to finding the cure for this disease could lie in brain energetics. Hence, we should shift the focus of medical research to finding an alternative to glucose as a source of energy for neurons in the brain,” said Dr Madhav Thambisetty, Associate Professor, National Institute of Health, Baltimore, USA.

He was delivering the 15th M V Arunachalam Endowment Lecture, titled “Alzheimer’s Disease: From Mechanisms to Medicines”, organised by Neurokrish, a city-based neuropsychiatry centre, in association with the Vellayan Chettiar Trust, here today. Professor Thambisetty said that recent studies link the development of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain—the key pathological features of Alzheimer’s disease—with high concentration of glucose in specific parts of the brain.

Dr Thambisetty said that Alzheimer’s is emerging as one of the greatest public health challenges globally, as countries age fast but there is a lack of diversity in the pipeline of therapeutics for the disease. Though a scientific basis for the condition was established a hundred years ago, only four symptomatic treatments exist and none of them promise prevention, cure or reversal of the conditions of cognitive impairment brought on by the disease.

He observed that traditional lifestyle practices such as intermittent fasting can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s as they bring down the glucose level and force the body to oxidise fatty acids. Low carb diets and keto diets can have a positive health outcome. He also recommended that patients should lead a cognitively rich lifestyle. “It is never too late to pick up a hobby, learn a new language or a musical instrument. It is important for elders to lead a socially active life,” he said.

In his presidential address, Mr Vellayan, Executive Chairman, Murugappa Group, said that the MV Arunachalam Oration brings leaders from all over the world working in science in general and neuroscience in particular to deliver the oration. The MV Arunachalam Centre for Information and Education in VHS is focussed on psychological support and rehabilitation for patients with chronic neurological disability, and works especially on advocacy and patient support after discharge. The centre has facilitated various Masters and MPhil students in psychology and social work. The clinical service in the centre has especially worked on developing information and education modules for dementia and epilepsy, he pointed out.

Earlier, welcoming the gathering, Dr Ennapadam S Krishnamoorthy, Founder, Neurokrish and TriMed, said that the five simple ways of preventing the onset of dementia are: challenging the brain with creative activities, a healthy diet, remaining physically active, engaging in social activities, and taking good care of the heart.