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Magnets can help Alzheimer's sufferers

24th May 2007

Magnets could be used to help treat illnesses associated with memory decline, new research has revealed.

Using magnets to stimulate the brain can encourage the growth of new neurons in the areas which control memory and learning.

Mice were tested with the system, called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for five days, after which their brain cell proliferation was analysed.

Stem cells, which are important for memory and mood control, were also found to increase through the use of the magnetic system.

This is said to be the first time TMS has been shown to enhance the generation of new brain cells.

Fortunato Battaglia, a researcher on the study, said: "The effect on stem cells is the most exciting finding."

The technology has been used to treat disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, as well as to rehabilitate stroke sufferers.

The team of researchers, based at the City University of New York, is now running trials on the use of TMS to treat age-related memory loss illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease.