Researchers at MIT have been working on a new kind of therapy for Alzheimer's disease, one using LED lights that flicker at a specific frequency. The investigators have shown that their approach reduces the beta amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
The light induces a type of brain wave called gamma oscillations; these waves both suppress the production of beta amyloids as well as stimulate cells that can destroy the plaques. This work has unfortunately only been performed in mice, so more research will be needed before it's known whether Alzheimer's patients can be assisted with this therapy.
"This important announcement may herald a breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, a terrible affliction affecting millions of people and their families around the world," says Michael Sipser, dean of MIT's School of Science. "Our MIT scientists have opened the door to an entirely new direction of research on this brain disorder and the mechanisms that may cause or prevent it. I find it extremely exciting."