Diabetes drug may restore memory for Alzheimer's patients

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A drug previously intended for diabetes treatment which never made it to market may be able to restore memory to people living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In tests on animal brain cells, researchers found that the compound restored memory to levels similar to those of normal cells. If current testing continues successfully, human trials could start in five years.

May be able to restore memory

According to senior author Jack Jhamandas with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta, “It tells us that drugs like this might be able to restore memory, even after Alzheimer’s disease may have set in.” The presence of amyloid proteins in the brain is believed to impair memory in people with AD.

Could block damage from amyloid proteins

In tests performed last year, Jhamandas showed that the drug, referred to as AC253, could block the toxic effects of amyloid protein which lead to brain cell death. This latest study compared memory capacity of brain cells which had been diagnosed with AD and left untreated to brain cells diagnosed with AD and treated with AC253.

One part of a larger strategy

There are challenges to bringing the drug to market, but Jhamandas is hopeful. “I think what we have discovered may be part of the solution, but I can’t say it will be the solution.” There is a long list of drugs that showed early promise for treatment of AD which ultimately failed.

“I don’t think one drug or approach will solve Alzheimer’s disease because it’s a complicated disease, but I am cautiously optimistic about our discovery and its implications.”

There may be even more uses for the drug

Current testing is exploring whether AC253 can be given preemptively to prevent Alzheimer’s disease from developing. Perhaps it can “stop the impairment of behavior and cognition altogether in animals destined to develop Alzheimer’s,” stated Jhamandas.

Source: The Journal of Neuroscience, MedicalNewsToday

 
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