Modern science is hot on the heels of Alzheimer’s disease, a very common progressively dementing illness found late in life for which no effective treatment is available.
Alzheimer’s occurs in part due to abnormal deposits of a toxic protein called beta amyloid in the brain. A recent study showed that tau protein, another toxic substance found within the cells of Alzheimer’s affected brains, actually travels from cell to cell.
The latest study published in the journal Science reports a radical and unexpected new effective treatment.
Mice genetically modified to develop Alzheimers disease by depositing beta amyloid plaques were effective cured of the disease.
They were treated with the skin cancer drug ?called bexarotene. The drug is approved for use in the skin cancer called cutaneous T cell lymphoma and is in a class of medications called retinoids. The drug binds to receptors that reduce DNA transcription thereby reducing cells growth and proliferation in cells possessing the receptor.
Bexaratone is also known to increase APO E levels. APO E is the body’s normal agent for clearing amyloid, so the researchers hypothesised it might be able to reduce amyloid plaque in the brain.
They were stunned by the marked effectiveness of the treatment. Withing 72 hours of receiving high doses of the drug, the animals’ brain amyloid was decreased by 50% and they exhibited dramatic improvement in memory tests.
Since the drug is already FDA approved for human use, it could be tried in patients in as little as two months.
That it worked on animal models does not prove it will work in humans, however the potential is dramatic.