Optimizing 40 Hz sensory stimulation protocols for Alzheimer's disease treatment

Clinical dementia, the majority of cases being caused by Alzheimer's disease, seriously impairs the lives of over 50 million people worldwide currently. There are approximately 55,000 people with dementia and as many dementia carers in Ireland. At present the lifetime risk of developing dementia is about 10% but this is increasing rapidly as the population ages in countries like Ireland. The cost to the Irish economy is estimated to be over €1.69 billion per annum and growing. There is a huge unmet need for effective therapies for Alzheimer's disease. Patients experience a devastating progressive and insidious loss of mental function associated with the brain deposition of misshapen proteins, in particular, amyloid ß-protein and tau. The symptoms are caused by disruption of neurotransmission at the junctions between brain cells. Currently approved drugs for the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease either boost the neurotransmitter acetylcholine or inhibit the action of the neurotransmitter glutamate, but these agents have very limited or no therapeutic efficacy in the vast majority of patients. Very recently, clinical trials of specific sensory stimulation protocols have received a strong endorsement from preclinical research in transgenic mice, and may provide a novel readily implemental disease modifying strategy. The proposed research will evaluate the therapeutic potential of different sensory stimulation protocols for Alzheimer's disease by rigorously studying their efficacy against the disruptive actions of amyloid ß-protein and tau, including those using patient-derived samples, in a range of tests of brain function in non-transgenic and transgenic live animals. This will enable us to select stimulation protocols most likely to yield success as early disease interventions. We believe that results from this study will lead directly to better ways of using specific sensory stimulation protocols in neurology and psychiatry and in particular the development of new potential disease modifying therapies for Alzheimer's disease.

Award Date
27 June 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Michael Rowan
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Investigator Led Projects