Vanderbilt launches nicotine study, looking for possible cure for Alzheimer’s

The Center for Cognitive Medicine of Vanderbilt University is considered one of the world’s top research facilities specializing in Alzheimer’s Disease and its precursory disorder Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).  Under the direction of Dr. Paul Newhouse, the facility has published volumes of groundbreaking research focusing on a specific scientific hypothesis that nicotine therapies can improve memory.

So far, the research is showing tremendous promise for real-life patients living with MCI.  Not only do the Vanderbilt brainiacs firmly believe that they will soon be able to stop the progression of memory loss and cognitive impairment, but they may even be able to reverse the associated neurological damage, too.  If they have their way, then a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease may be right around the corner.

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Now get this.  According to the Vanderbilt website, Paul Newhouse is a Professor of Cognitive Disorders, a Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, a Pharmacologist, a Physician, and he also runs the university’s research center.  If anyone in the world can find a cure for the debilitating disease of Alzheimer’s, Newhouse if probably at the top of the list.

In fact, he’s already had tremendous professional success in the past and some rather revolutionary scientific discoveries. In 2012, for example, Dr. Newhouse conducted a study entitled Nicotine treatment of mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month double-blind pilot clinical trial published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI). 

Over a period of six months, Newhouse and his team of academic whiz kids tracked the progress of 55 elderly patients suffering with MCI as they were given transdermal nicotine therapies. Some were given the nicotine patches.  Others were given placebos.  And since it was a double-blind study, neither the patients nor the scientists knew which people were wearing the nicotine patches and which ones were wearing the fakes.

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All participants were asked to engage periodically in a customized evaluation process that was explicitly designed to monitor, track, and detect any variances in cognition. After the results were compiled and the nicotine-infused patients were identified, the Newhouse team discovered that those who were given the nicotine patches experienced a 46 percent increase in age-adjusted cognitive functions.  Those given placebos witnessed a 26 percent decline, on average. 

Memory Improvement for Nicotine Dosing (MIND)

What accounts for this miraculous improvement in memory?  According to the research, the Newhouse team discovered that an alkaloid commonly found in nicotine is likely responsible for the enhanced neurological functions.

“People think of [Nicotine] as a potentially noxious substance, but it’s a plant-derived medication just like a lot of other medications.” 
“I am convinced that we will find a way to help improve early memory loss and make a real difference in people’s lives. In this study, we have an inexpensive, widely available potential treatment.”
-Dr. Paul Newhouse

Today, Dr. Newhouse is building upon his previous scientific success by beginning a new-and-improve nicotine study involving an even larger number of MCI patients.  In coordination with the University of Southern California’s Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute (USC ATRI), Vanderbilt University has introduced the MIND study (Memory Improvement for Nicotine Dosing).

The Newhouse team now believes that nicotine stimulates a special receptor site in the brain that is responsible for the production of a particular neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, and scientists already know that this neurotransmitter regulates memory.  The MIIND study may help Dr. Newhouse identify a scientific process that can replace or re-grow these damaged brain receptors in Alzheimer’s and MCI patients - which would theoretically re-instate their memory functions, as well.  And wouldn’t that be wonderful!

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