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Draining Brain Toxins May Slow Alzheimer's

TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDayNews) -- Reducing levels of specific toxins in the brain may help stabilize cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease patients.

That's the finding of preliminary research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, published in the August issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The toxins under study are called isoprostanes, compounds that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and cause the death of cells involved in memory and language.

Researchers controlled the levels of isoprostanes in eight Alzheimer's patients by fitting them with specially designed shunts that drained their cerebral spinal fluid. Over a year, isoprostane levels in these patients declined by about 50 percent, compared to Alzheimer's patients who took only standard oral medications.

In a paper-and-pencil cognitive test, the scores of the patients with the shunts remained stable over 12 months. The scores of patients without the shunt declined by 20 percent.

Nearly 100 Alzheimer's patients have been recruited for the next phase of the study, which is being conducted at Stanford University.

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