Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alzheimer's drug candidate may be first to prevent disease progression

15.12.2011
Salk scientists develop new drug that improves memory and prevents brain damage in mice

A new drug candidate may be the first capable of halting the devastating mental decline of Alzheimer's disease, based on the findings of a study published today in PLoS one.

When given to mice with Alzheimer's, the drug, known as J147, improved memory and prevented brain damage caused by the disease. The new compound, developed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, could be tested for treatment of the disease in humans in the near future.

"J147 enhances memory in both normal and Alzheimer's mice and also protects the brain from the loss of synaptic connections," says David Schubert, the head of Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, whose team developed the new drug. "No drugs on the market for Alzheimer's have both of these properties."

Although it is yet unknown whether the compound will prove safe and effective in humans, the Salk researchers' say their results suggest the drug may hold potential for treatment of people with Alzheimer's.

As many as 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, according to the National Institutes of Health. More than 16 million will have the disease by 2050, according to Alzheimer's Association estimates, resulting in medical costs of over $1 trillion per year.

The disease causes a steady, irreversible decline in brain function, erasing a person's memory and ability to think clearly until they are unable to perform simple tasks such as eating and talking, and it is ultimately fatal. Alzheimer's is linked to aging and typically appears after age 60, although a small percentage of families carry a genetic risk for earlier onset. Among the top ten causes of death, Alzheimer's is the only one without a way to prevent, cure or slow disease progression.

Scientists are unclear what causes Alzheimer's, which appears to emerge from a complex mix of genetics, environment and lifestyle factors. So far, the drugs developed to treat the disease, such as Aricept, Razadyne and Exelon, only produce fleeting memory improvements and do nothing to slow the overall course of the disease.

To find a new type of drug, Schubert and his colleagues bucked the trend within the pharmaceutical industry of focusing exclusively on the biological pathways involved in the formation of amyloid plaques, the dense deposits of protein that characterize the disease. To date, Schubert says, all amyloid-based drugs have failed in clinical trials.

Instead, the Salk team developed methods for using living neurons grown in laboratory dishes to test whether or not new synthetic compounds were effective at protecting the brain cells against several pathologies associated with brain aging. Based on the test results from each chemical iteration of the lead compound, which was originally developed for treatment of stroke and traumatic brain injury, they were able to alter its chemical structure to make a much more potent Alzheimer's drug.

"Alzheimer's is a complex disease, but most drug development in the pharmaceutical world has focused on a single aspect of the disease--the amyloid pathway," says Marguerite Prior, a research associate in Schubert's lab, who led the project along with Qi Chen, a former Salk postdoctoral researcher. "In contrast, by testing these compounds in living cell cultures, we can determine what they do against a range of age-related problems and select the best candidate that addresses multiple aspects of the disease, not just one."

With a promising compound in hand, the researchers shifted to testing J147 as an oral medication in mice. Working with Amanda Roberts, a professor of molecular neurosciences at The Scripps Research Institute, they conducted a range of behavioral tests that showed that the drug improved memory in normal rodents.

The Salk researchers went on to show that it prevented cognitive decline in animals with Alzheimer's and that mice and rats treated with the drug produced more of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a molecule that protects neurons from toxic insults, helps new neurons grow and connect with other brain cells, and is involved in memory formation.

Because of the broad ability of J147 to protect nerve cells, the researchers believe that it may also be effective for treating other neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well as stroke.

The research was funded by the Fritz B. Burns Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Bundy Foundation and the Alzheimer's Association.

Andy Hoang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.salk.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku

nachricht Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>