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Synthetic compound halts Alzheimer's neurodegeneration in mice

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Another preclinical study has generated a promising new Alzheimer's treatment--a synthetic compound developed at the University of Minnesota.

The drug, dubbed psi-GSH, helped prevent Alzheimer's-related neurodegeneration in mice. Researchers with the university's Center for Drug Design gave it over 11 weeks to mice predisposed to develop Alzheimer's, and they documented measurable improvements in memory and cognition. What's more, the treated mice lacked any significant brain plaque, and the drug appeared to reduce the buildup of excessive amounts of amyloid beta protein considered a hallmark of the disease.

By contrast, untreated mice experienced significant cognitive declines, and they faced significant plaque buildup in their brains. How did the drug work? According to the researchers, it appeared to help boost the brain's glyoxalase system so it could halt a process that turns normal brain amyloid protein into the distorted variety that leads to Alzheimer's. Previous research determined that Alzheimer's impairs the brain's ability to wield the glyoxalase system, the scientists explain.

The hope here, is that the results give drug developers a new target for which to develop new anti-Alzheimer's drugs. And while other Alzheimer's drugs have failed as they advanced to human trials, the University of Minnesota team said their drug has merit because it hits a root cause of the disease at a very early stage, enabling the brain itself to fight back.

Lead researcher Robert Vince is careful to note that the finding is far from certain in presenting a definite course of action against Alzheimer's. He notes in a statement that the finding is encouraging, but that the results must be repeated in human studies before any final conclusions can be made. Human trials are a long way off, but the research is likely to continue. Details of the findings, meanwhile, are published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract

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