Dogs Offer Crucial Help in Developing Cure for Human Dementia

Hobart, Australia — Dogs suffering from dementia may hold the key to finding a cure for humans also suffering from dementia.

Dogs suffer from a form of dementia similar to that seen in humans. The dementia symptoms of memory loss and disorientation are seen in 12% of dogs who are ten-years-old and above. Some of these dogs have been volunteered by their human companions to take part in a first-time trial led by Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela of the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute. Valenzuela made the announcement at the recent Alzheimer’s Australia national conference in Hobart, Australia.

Valenzuela has been quoted as saying that there are significant similarities between human and dog dementia including memory loss, disorientation, agitation and even Alzheimer plaque build-up in the brain.  He notes that dog dementia is even more noticeable because of the dog-human bonds.  He explains that the human companions notice when their dogs start staring at walls or get stuck behind furniture or other items. Perhaps the most upsetting symptom is when the dog suffering from dementia is when has trouble recognizing their human and no longer celebrates them home.

But Valenzuela and his team hope their procedure provides a cure for dogs and humans.  The process involves the researchers growing a million cells from a skin sample taken near the stomach. Those cells are then transplanted in the part of the brain that processes memory, the hippocampus. The team has been working on the project for five years and has already had success with rat memory loss.  If the process works the University of Sydney team expects to see improvement in the dogs within a few months.  If the canine trials work then the next step would be human clinical trials. It is expected that it will be three to five years before human clinical trials begin.


3 thoughts on “Dogs Offer Crucial Help in Developing Cure for Human Dementia”

  1. Fostering old dogs is one of most rewarding things I have ever done with my life. One of the fosters I remember well was one old gal with dementia. She would stand by the door asking to go out then when she got onto the porch she would stop and just stand there. I’d go out, take her to the grass where she would most likely not do anything and bring her back in. She would do it all over again. Sometimes 15 times in a row…it was heartbreaking.

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  2. I have had 3 dogs with dementia as elders. Pomo was the worst and lived with it for about 2 years. SOmetimes when we went to the beach, he would become disoriented and possibly not recognize me (he did not, at the end); and then he would head back to the car. Once, he was moving faster than I can, and I called to a woman to take his collar and hold him. When I caught up to them, I explained; and she said “When I am old and have Alzheimers, I hope some will take ME to the beach!” <3

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  3. I have had two elderly dogs with dementia who benefitted greatly from taking Anipryl (Selegiline). Toward the very end, one of them refused to take his after having taken it for years. Oddly, the dementia did not return.

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