Alzheimer’s disease may get treated with skin cancer drug; Research

Normal brain versus Advanced Alzheimer's diseaseResearchers have found a rapid removal of destructive plaques usually found in the brains of the patients while testing a cancer drug on mice.

This research has been done by scientists from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio has been published online in February 9 issue of the journal Science.

Researchers have reported the destruction of plaques at an “unprecedented” speed. They have also found some improvement in the brain functioning.

Experts in this field have suggested that beta-amyloid – a protein – when clumped results in Alzheimer’s disease as these proteins cause damage and kill brain cells leading to problems of memory and thinking that is why researchers are working on the clearance of such protein plaques. Naturally in the body, there is a chemical, which helps in the removal of beta-amyloid i.e. apolipoprotein-E or ApoE.

Researchers thought to increase the amount of ApoE. They used bexarotene, which is used for the treatment of skin cancer, on mice with similar conditions as that of Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the levels of beta-amyloid in the brain were “rapidly lowered” within six hours after using one dose and a 25% reduction was sustained for 70 hours. They further found that in older mice the number of plaques reduced by 50% after seven days of treatment.

Researchers have found that after treatment the brain functioning improved such as nest building, remembering electrical shocks and maze performance.

Researcher Paige Cramer said, “This is an unprecedented finding. Previously, the best existing treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in mice required several months to reduce plaque in the brain.”

Although the drug successfully works in mice but according to researchers it needs further investigation as some therapeutic strategies that work in mice fail to work in humans.

Reference:

Paige E. Cramer, John R. Cirrito, Daniel W. Wesson, C. Y. Daniel Lee, J. Colleen Karlo, Adriana E. Zinn, Brad T. Casali, Jessica L. Restivo, Whitney D. Goebel, Michael J. James, Kurt R. Brunden, Donald A. Wilson, Gary E. Landreth, (2012). ApoE-Directed Therapeutics Rapidly Clear β-Amyloid and Reverse Deficits in AD Mouse Models. Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1217697

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