Dogs could hold key to dementia treatment

Last Updated: May 16, 2013, 14:36 PM IST

Melbourne: An Australian researcher has claimed that a world-first study using dogs could hold the key to a breakthrough in dementia treatment, a media report has said

According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report, scientist Michael Valenzuela from University of Sydney has said the research is focusing on dogs which are capable of developing the same condition.

Researchers will transplant stem cells created from the skin of a dog`s belly into its brain, in the hope memory function will be improved.

"These new cells survive in the brain, they grow into brain cells and they actually form connections with the animal`s own brain and improve overall memory function," Valenzuela said.

"Dogs develop the same kind of Alzheimer`s pathology as humans do. They develop this dementia syndrome which includes memory issues, disorientation, agitation," he said adding "A lot of the current thinking and the current drug trials of recent years have been unsuccessful and really the key issue in dementia is loss of brain cells.

"So if we`re ever going to get to the point of reversing those symptoms and problems we`re going to have to somehow replace those lost neurons," he said.

Without a breakthrough, it is estimated nearly one million Australians will have dementia by 2050.

He is presenting the research at a national Alzheimer`s Australia conference in Hobart.