Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by progressive loss of memory and cognitive performance leading eventually to dementia. Patients have decreased cognition, loss of attention, perception, progressive memory loss, poor attention span, lack of emotional control, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor judgment and reasoning, hallucinations, delusions, failure to recognize close friends and family members and gradual deterioration of intellect.
Neuronal and synapse loss may occur throughout the brain involving the basal forebrain cholingergic system, amygdale, hippocampus and several cortical areas. Current therapy is treatment with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors to enhance cholinergic function which gives only partial and temporary alleviation of the symptoms.
The discovery of stem cells has given rise to the hope that a more specific form of treatment could be offered for Alzheimer’s. Although there are niches and reservoirs of stem cells in the brain the numbers are not enough to restore normal neurological function.