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光与声的试验:阿尔茨海默病治疗的突破

A Trial of Light And Sound: A Breakthrough in Alzheimer’s Treatment

by Rhodilee Jean Dolor

A Ticking Time Bomb
定时炸弹

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia characterized by continuous decline in cognitive, social and behavioral skills. The condition restricts the sufferer’s ability to function independently.   The neurodegeneration is largely attributed to the two proteins, beta–amyloid and tau, that clump together and form damaging plaques in the brain.

阿尔茨海默病是最常见的痴呆症,其特征是认知、社交和行为能力持续下降。这种情况限制了病人独立工作的能力。神经退行性病变在很大程度上归因于两种蛋白质,β-淀粉样蛋白和tau,它们聚集在一起,在大脑中形成破坏性的斑块。

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are at least 5.8 million Americans who live with the condition. To put this into perspective, someone in the United States develops the neurological disease every 65 seconds. Based on estimates using the 2010 census of the United States, researchers projected that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will hit 13.8 million by the year 2050.

老年痴呆症协会估计至少有580万美国人患有这种疾病。从这个角度来看,美国每65秒就有人患上神经系统疾病。根据2010年美国人口普查的,研究人员预计到2050年,患有阿尔茨海默病的人数将达到1380万。

The illness does not just affect the patients, but also their families and caretakers who face the physical, emotional, and financial burden of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. The condition likewise comes with economic and social implications given the costs of medical and social care. Figures from the World Health Organization show that, in 2015, the total global societal cost of dementia was around $818 billion, a cost equivalent to 1.1 percent of the global gross domestic product. The situation could become more bleak before a breakthrough treatment or cure is found. 

这种疾病不仅影响到患者,还影响到他们的家人和看护人,他们面临着照顾老年痴呆症患者的生理、情感和经济负担。考虑到医疗和社会护理的成本,这种情况同样会带来经济和社会影响。全球老年痴呆症总成本占全球社会总成本的1.8%。在找到突破性的治疗或治疗方法之前,情况可能会变得更加黯淡。

Currently, available treatments for Alzheimer’s do not successfully cure the condition. The approaches merely help manage and slow down the symptoms of the disease so patients can live independently for a longer time. Alzheimer’s neither has a vaccine that can give people immunity against it, nor does any of the medications prescribed for Alzheimer’s patients stop the disease. However, there has been considerable research and some progress in recent years. 

目前,阿尔茨海默氏症的有效治疗方法并不能成功治愈这种疾病。这些方法只是帮助控制和减缓疾病的症状,使患者能够独立生活更长的时间。阿尔茨海默氏症既没有一种疫苗可以让人们对它产生免疫力,也没有任何为老年痴呆症患者开的药物能够阻止这种疾病。然而,近年来已有相当多的研究和一些进展。

Therapy For Recreating Lost Brain Waves 
恢复丢失脑电波的疗法

Scientists have been working on a breakthrough treatment that can reverse Alzheimer’s, but recent experiments suggest that the cure for Alzheimer’s may not come packaged in a prescription bottle or surgical procedure. Therapies that use light and sound offer hope in a breakthrough treatment for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

科学家们一直在研究一种可以逆转老年痴呆症的突破性治疗方法,但最近的实验表明,治疗老年痴呆症的药物可能不会包装在处方瓶或外科手术中。使用光和声音的疗法为老年痴呆症和其他形式的痴呆症提供了突破性治疗的希望。

In a study published in the journal Cell in March 2019, researchers found that strobe lights and low pitched sound can recreate the brain waves lost to the Alzheimer’s disease. In experiments conducted on lab mice, researchers found that this type of stimulation cleared the buildup of toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and improved the cognitive function in mice that displayed Alzheimer’s-like behaviour.

在2019年3月发表在《细胞》杂志上的一项研究中,研究人员发现频闪灯和低沉的声音可以重现因阿尔茨海默病而丢失的脑电波。在实验室老鼠身上进行的实验中,研究人员发现这种类型的刺激可以清除与阿尔茨海默氏症相关的有毒蛋白质的堆积,并改善表现出类似阿尔茨海默氏症行为的老鼠的认知功能。

Prior research has shown that flashing light 40 times per second into the eyes of mice engineered with an Alzheimer-like disease treated the condition. The new study found that adding sound of a similar frequency dramatically improved the results. 

先前的研究表明,以每秒40次的速度向患有类似阿尔茨海默病的老鼠的眼睛里闪光可以治疗这种疾病。这项新的研究发现,增加频率相近的声音可以显著改善结果。

“When we combine visual and auditory stimulation for a week, we see the engagement of the prefrontal cortex and a very dramatic reduction of amyloid,” said study researcher Li-Huei Tsai, from MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. Encouraged by these results, a clinical study was launched to investigate if flickering lights and low frequency sound may indeed help Alzheimer’s patients.  

麻省理工学院皮考尔学习与记忆研究所的研究员李惠才说:“当我们将视觉和听觉刺激结合起来一周后,我们会看到前额叶皮层的参与和淀粉样蛋白的显著减少。”。在这些结果的鼓舞下,一项临床研究开始调查闪烁的灯光和低频的声音是否真的可以帮助老年痴呆症患者。

dozen patients have signed up for the trial which involves exposure to flashing light and pulsing sounds, both tuned to a frequency of 40 hertz to manipulate brain waves and trigger biological effects that can eliminate the plaque-forming proteins considered as hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. At the 2019 Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago last October, Tsai said that the light and sound sessions have improved amplitude and synchrony of brain waves in the trial patients; albeit, it may take a year to get data on the effectivity of the treatment.

十几名患者已经报名参加了这项试验,比如暴露在闪光灯和脉冲声中,这两种声音都被调到40赫兹的频率来操纵脑波,并引发生物效应,从而消除被视为阿尔茨海默病特征的斑块形成蛋白。在去年10月于芝加哥举行的2019年神经科学学会会议上,蔡教授说,光和声疗法改善了受试患者脑电波的振幅和同步性;尽管可能需要一年时间才能获得治疗效果的数据。

Forty more patients will participate in a second trial which will examine if the light and sound waves can reduce the levels of amyloid protein plaques and tau protein tangles in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid.

另外40名患者将参加第二项试验,研究光波和声波是否能降低大脑和脑脊液中淀粉样蛋白斑块和tau蛋白缠结的水平。

similar treatment that involves shining light directly in the areas of the brain that are damaged in Alzheimer’s patients is also being tested. The trial particularly centers on an experimental headset that beams pulses of gamma waves into the brain’s hippocampus, which plays a key role in memory. Developed by the Canadian biotech firm Vielight, the Neuro RX Gamma device beams light to the brain through the nostrils for 20 minutes per day. The treatment was designed to sweep away the buildup of the toxic proteins through a process known as “photobiomodulation” that directs pulses of near-infrared light into parts of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s to stimulate healing.

一种类似的治疗方法也在试验中,这种疗法直接照射阿尔茨海默病患者大脑受损的区域。这项试验集中在一个实验性耳机上,它能将伽玛波脉冲传输到大脑海马体,海马体在记忆中起着关键作用。由加拿大生物技术公司Vielight开发的神经RX伽玛装置每天通过鼻孔向大脑发射20分钟的光。这种疗法的目的是通过一种被称为“光生物调节”的过程来清除有毒蛋白质的积聚,这种过程将近红外光脉冲引导到大脑中被阿尔茨海默氏症损害的部分,以刺激愈合。

Initial results saw patients regaining their memory, as well as their reading and writing skills, in just three months. The trial that will assess the effectiveness of the treatment started in June 2019 and will be completed in 2021.

初步结果显示,患者在短短三个月内恢复了记忆,以及阅读和写作技能。评估治疗效果的试验于2019年6月开始,将于2021年完成。

Light And Sound As A Medical Tool
把光与声音作为医疗工具

Why do light and sound make a potentially effective medical tool for treating Alzheimer’s? It could be how they affect electrical activity on the brain.  Tsai and colleagues have found that sound waves oscillating at 40 hertz strengthen the same gamma frequency in the brain. Earlier studies showed that these gamma waves are impeded in Alzheimer’s patients and may have a pivotal role in the pathology of the disease. 

为什么光和声音是治疗老年痴呆症的潜在有效的医疗工具?可能是它们如何影响大脑的电活动。蔡教授和他的同事发现,40赫兹振荡的声波增强了大脑中相同的伽马频率。早期的研究表明,这些伽玛波在阿尔茨海默病患者中受到阻碍,可能在该病的病理学中起着关键作用。

Animal studies suggest that the light and sound waves can ramp up activity in the brain’s immune cells, which makes them more effective at sweeping away the toxic plaques and tangles linked to dementia. Researchers hope this can yield game-changing results that can save countless lives. 

动物研究表明,光波和声波可以增强大脑免疫细胞的活动,从而使它们更有效地清除与痴呆症有关的有毒斑块和缠结。研究人员希望这能产生改变游戏规则的结果,拯救无数生命。

“Brain rhythms and their role in conditions like dementia are still mysterious, but this work begins to outline their impact on different types of brain cells and the mechanisms involved,” said James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society. “We’re waiting for further data but this could be the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in over 15 years, and as such, has the potential to be a transformative discovery.”

阿尔茨海默氏症协会的研究负责人詹姆斯·皮克特说:“大脑节律及其在痴呆症等疾病中的作用仍然是个谜,但这项工作开始描绘出它们对不同类型脑细胞的影响及其相关机制。”。“我们正在等待进一步的数据,但这可能是15年来首次针对阿尔茨海默病的新疗法,因此,有可能成为一个变革性的发现。”

翻译:STARSET Mirror翻译组

STARSET_Mirror

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