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New drug offers Alzheimer's prevention hope

By Tim Sandle     Feb 13, 2016 in Science
Cambridge - New experiments have indicated a number of drugs that could help protect against Alzheimer's disease. The drugs act like statins for the brain.
The new candidate drugs are promising although research is at a very early stage. The drugs have, at this stage, only been tested on worms. This may not seem like much, but a range of compounds appear to have prevented the very first steps towards brain cell death. The worms were genetically programmed to display symptoms analogous to the neurodegenerative disease.
The drugs do not yet have their own class, although the researchers see them as a form of "neurostatin", a way to ward off Alzheimer's disease as statins help to keep heart disease at bay. The concept here is rather than find a cure for Alzheimer's disease (which has, as yet, been unsuccessful), more success may be achieved from taking a drug that either prevents the disease from occurring or, for those already suffering with the condition, stops it from progressing further and the sufferer from deteriorating any more.
The research has been performed at the University of Cambridge, U.K. One drug compound called bexarotene, which is based on an anti-cancer medication, has appeared promising. The compound seems to interfere with amyloid build-up.
The build-up of amyloid plaques is the most probable cause for Alzheimer's. The theory runs that an amyloid-related mechanism, designed to control neuronal connections in the brain in early life, is again triggered by the ageing-related processes in later life.
In the longer term the research group want to pair up different drug compounds with different stages of Alzheimer's disease. The hope is that different medications can one day be provided for people who are suffering with the disease at different stages of its progression (for example, a drug administered to those showing early signs of the disease would be different to a drug given to those with the disease as it progresses further.)
The research is published in the journal Science Advances, and the paper is lengthily titled "An anticancer drug suppresses the primary nucleation reaction that initiates the production of the toxic Aβ42 aggregates linked with Alzheimer’s disease."
More about Alzheimer's disease, Neurodegenrative disease, Ageing, Medication
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