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U.K. study may have discovered Alzheimer's Disease breakthrough

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 9, 2016 in Science
Scientists from the University of Southampton released results of a study on Friday that they believe is an important next step toward finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and other dementia. It involves blocking one of the brain's receptors.
Reducing inflammation
Published in the medical journal Brain, a press release from the university says that the stu.dy's findings suggest that by blocking a receptor in the brain that is there to regulate immune cells we could "protect against the memory and behavior changes" that are a mainstay of Alzheimer's Disease.
"It was originally thought Alzheimer’s disease disturbs the brain’s immune response," the press release notes. "But this latest study adds to evidence that inflam mation in the brain can in fact drive the development of the disease.
"The findings suggest that by reducing this inflammation, progression of the disease could be halted."
A team of scientist, lead by Dr. Diego Gomez-Nicola examined tissue from healthy brains and brains with Alzheimer's. They counted the microglia, a particular type of brain cell, in both sets of samples. In the brains with Alzheimer's they found more microglia along with inflammation.
Blocking microglia in mice
The scientists then looked at the microglia in mice which had been bred to develop "features of Alzheimer's." Looking to find out if "blocking the receptor responsible for regulating microglia...could improve cognitive skills" the researchers gave the mice oral doses of an inhibitor designed to do just that.
They found the inhibitor "could prevent the rise in microglia numbers seen in untreated mice as the disease progressed" and that the inhibitor prevented "the loss of communication points between the nerve cells in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s."
Treated mice had fewer memory and behavioural problems associated with Alzheimer's than mice left untreated, the study found. Further, the brain needs a certain amount of microglia for normal immune functioning and that number was maintained, meaning that an inhibitor only destroys excess microglia, leaving the brain able to have normal immune protection.
"These findings are as close to evidence as we can get to show this particular pathway is active in the development of Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Gomez-Nicola said. "The next step is to work closely with our partners in industry to find a safe and suitable drug that can be tested. to see if it works in humans."
There is no timeline on the next stage of research as they seek to find a drug to inhibit microglia in humans. Currently there are drugs to mitigate the effects of Alzheimer's but there is no cure.
More about university of southampton alzheimer's study, Alzeimer's Disease, study on alzheimer's, Dementia, alzheimer's breakthrough
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