Alzheimer Preventing Drug Developed

First Posted: Feb 09, 2013 08:42 PM EST

Scientists developed a drug against Alzheimer's that reduces the amount of the accompanying plaques in the brain by a third and more than doubles the number of new nerve cells in a particular region of the brain associated with memory. Professor David Allsop and Dr Mark Taylor at Lancaster University hope that this new drug, preventing the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, could enter clinical trials within the next few years' time.

The rapidly spreading Alzheimer's disease, set to double in the coming decades, is caused by the protein amyloid-β (Aβ) clumping together in senile plaques in the brain, which is damaging nerve cells and leads to memory loss and confusion. Another symptom is brain inflammation and oxidative damage - which the new drug also addresses.

Professor Allsop, who was the first scientist to isolate senile plaques from human brain, and led the research said:  "When we got the test results back, we were highly encouraged. The amount of plaque in the brain had been reduced by a third and this could be improved if we gave a larger dose of the drug, because at this stage, we don't know what the optimal dose is."

The researchers tested the drug on transgenic mice containing two mutant human genes linked to inherited forms of Alzheimer's, so that they would develop some of the changes associated with the illness. The drug, which is based on the  peptide inhibitor RI-OR2-TAT, is designed to cross the blood-brain barrier and prevent the Aβ molecules from sticking together to form plaques.

The next step is to test the drug for safety so it can enter human trials thereafter.In case of success, the target group could be people with mild symptoms of memory loss, in order to stop the disease before the symptoms are being developed.

"Many people who are mildly forgetful may go on to develop the disease because these senile plaques start forming years before any symptoms manifest themselves. The ultimate aim is to give the drug at that stage to stop any more damage to the brain, before it's too late."

Vadivel Parthsarathy et al., A Novel Retro-Inverso Peptide Inhibitor Reduces Amyloid Deposition, Oxidation and Inflammation and Stimulates Neurogenesis in the APPswe/PS1ΔE9 Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease, PLOS ONE, 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054769

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