A drug developed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, known as J147, reverses memory deficits and slows Alzheimer's disease in aged mice following short-term treatment. The findings, published May 14 in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy, may pave the way to a new treatment for Alzheimer's disease in humans.
"J147 is an exciting new compound because it really has strong potential to be an Alzheimer's disease therapeutic by slowing disease progression and reversing memory deficits following short-term treatment," says lead study author Marguerite Prior, a research associate in Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory.
Despite years of research, there are no disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer's. Current FDA-approved medications, including Aricept, Razadyne and Exelon, offer only fleeting short-term benefits for Alzheimer's patients, but they do nothing to slow the steady, irreversible decline of brain function that erases a person's memory and ability to think clearly.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the country and the only one among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.J147 was developed at Salk in the laboratory of David Schubert, a professor in the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory. He and his colleagues bucked the trend within the pharmaceutical industry, which has focused on the biological pathways involved in the formation of amyloid plaques, the dense deposits of protein that characterize the disease. Instead, the Salk team used living neurons grown in laboratory dishes to test whether their new synthetic compounds, which are based upon natural products derived from plants, were effective at protecting brain cells against several pathologies associated with brain aging. From the test results of each chemical iteration of the lead compound, they were able to alter their chemical structures to make them much more potent. Although J147 appears to be safe in mice, the next step will require clinical trials to determine whether the compound will prove safe and effective in humans.
To test the efficacy of J147 in a much more rigorous preclinical Alzheimer's model, the Salk team treated mice using a therapeutic strategy that they say more accurately reflects the human symptomatic stage of Alzheimer's. Administered in the food of 20-month-old genetically engineered mice, at a stage when Alzheimer's pathology is advanced, J147 rescued severe memory loss, reduced soluble levels of amyloid, and increased neurotrophic factors essential for memory, after only three months of treatment.
In a different experiment, the scientists tested J147 directly against Aricept, the most widely prescribed Alzheimer's drug, and found that it performed as well or better in several memory tests.
"In addition to yielding an exceptionally promising therapeutic, both the strategy of using mice with existing disease and the drug discovery process based upon aging are what make the study interesting and exciting," says Schubert, "because it more closely resembles what happens in humans, who have advanced pathology when diagnosis occurs and treatment begins." Most studies test drugs before pathology is present, which is preventive rather than therapeutic and may be the reason drugs don't transfer from animal studies to humans.Prior and her colleagues say that several cellular processes known to be associated with Alzheimer's pathology are affected by J147, including an increase in a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which protects neurons from toxic insults, helps new neurons grow and connect with other brain cells, and is involved in memory formation. Postmortem studies show lower than normal levels of BDNF in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.
The Salk researchers say that J147, with its memory enhancing and neuroprotective properties, along with its safety and availability as an oral medication, would make an "ideal candidate" for Alzheimer's disease clinical trials. They are currently seeking funding for such a trial.
Other researchers on the study were Richard Dargusch, Jennifer L. Ehren and Chandra Chiruta, of the Salk Institute.
The work was supported by the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, the Bundy Foundation, the Fritz Burns Foundation, the George E. Hewitt Foundation, the Alzheimer's Association, and the National Institutes of Health.
About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.
Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.
Andy Hoang | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > BDNF > Biological Studies > Cellular Neurobiology > Gates Foundation > Neurobiology > brain cell > cellular process > cellular protein > chemical structure > clinical trials > degenerative disease > memory deficits > nerve cell > neurodegenerative disease > neurotrophic factor
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering