Cancer Drug may Prove Effective in Treating Alzheimer's Disease

First Posted: Jul 23, 2014 11:29 AM EDT

Though no cure exists for Alzheimer's disease--the most common form of dementia--a recent study shows that a treatment initially developed for cancer patients could hold hope for the future.

In an otherwise healthy brain, the protein known as tau binds and stabilizes microtubules that are cellular components made of protein inside cells.

Microtubules are critical for performing many processes in the cell, including growth and division. However, for many with Alzheimer's, tau will not bind well to the microtubules and clumps up inside the brain. This can leave the microtubules in disarray, according to a news release.

This is what scientists believe causes mental issues associated with the form of dementia, including memory less and later, nerve cell death.

However, previous research has shown that when the microtubules can be stabilized, there is a chance that cognition and memory can be improved and even restored, in some cases.

For the study, researchers gave the cancer treatment to a group of mice that were fed by mouth. Findings revealed that as the drug entered the brain, it took on the role of the tau protein and helped to stabilize microtubules needed for memory and function.

Though future studies will need to be conducted in order to review the drug's effectiveness, researchers said they believe this could be a good oral therapy for the treatment of Alzheimer's and other related health issues.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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