07 January 2019

A drinkable drug may reverse the effects of Alzheimer's, study indicates

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Researchers in the US have identified a drinkable cocktail that interferes with a crucial first step of Alzheimer’s disease and has proven to restore memory function in mice.

Stephen Strittmatter, professor of neurology and of neuroscience, and director of the Yale University Alzheimer Disease Research Centre said: “We wanted to find molecules that might have a therapeutic effect on this network."

Strittmatter and research scientist Erik Gunther screened tens of thousands of compounds looking for molecules that might interfere with the damaging prion protein interaction with amyloid beta.

As reported in Cell Reports, an old antibiotic, called Suprax, looked like a promising candidate but was only active after decomposing to form a polymer. Related small polymers retained the benefit and also managed to pass through the blood-brain barrier. They discovered that synapses in the brains of the mice were repaired and lost memory was recovered. 

A collaborating team at Dartmouth University reported a positive response when they delivered the same cocktail to cells modeled to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a devastating neurological condition.

Dr. James Pickett, from Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are looking into whether diabetes and arthritis treatments could benefit people with dementia, so it’s fascinating that something based on antibiotics could too."

Grants from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Falk Medical Research Trust to Strittmatter funded this research. 

The next step is to confirm that the compound is not toxic before human trials can commence.

Sources:

Yale University

https://www.spring.org.uk/2019/01/drug-reverse-alzheimers.php