Vanderbilt to conduct national study on Alzheimer's and nicotine - WSMV News 4

Vanderbilt to conduct national study on Alzheimer's and nicotine

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

The dangers of nicotine have been known for decades, but doctors at Vanderbilt believe the chemical may help people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Vanderbilt is now conducting a study led by Dr. Paul Newhouse.

"Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that robs you of your personhood," Newhouse said.

Newhouse, whose own father suffers from memory loss, has made finding a cure his life's work.

"What I'm really excited about is we've finally gotten to a point where we can really test the hypothesis: does nicotine help or does it not?" Newhouse said.

Newhouse thinks it does, and for the first time he's conducting a national study, testing 300 people in at least 27 centers across the country.

They're taking people with mild memory loss and giving them nicotine patches, hoping to stimulate their brain cells. Then they're testing their brains to see if their attention, learning and memory improves.

"Which, if it works, would be inexpensive, very easy to access, and would could potentially be used for a long period of time," Newhouse said.

Newhouse said the nicotine patch is not harmful.

He also doesn't believe it can prevent memory loss before it begins. Rather, what he hopes to prove is that a partial cure for a devastating disease has been right here all along.

Vanderbilt still needs more people to participate in the study. They're looking for those with early signs of memory loss.

Click here if you’re interested in learning more about the study.

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