New Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Promise Against Multiple Conditions
A new pill has the potential to treat multiple conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis, according to new research published in the Journal of Neuroscience. While the pill, known as MW151, is still in early clinical trials, it stopped full-blown Alzheimer's from developing in mice when given early enough, researchers said.
"The drug protected against the damage associated with learning and memory impairment," Linda Van Eldik, study author and director of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, said in a statement. "Giving this drug before Alzheimer's memory changes are at a late stage may be a promising future approach to therapy."
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Researchers believe Alzheimer's disease to be caused in part by inflammation in the brain. MW151 works by blocking the production of signaling molecules called pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can damage the immune system when they are too abundant.
"In Alzheimer's disease, many people now view the progression from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown Alzheimer's as an indication of malfunctioning synapses, the pathways that allow neurons to talk to each other," Professor Martin Watterson, study coauthor and researcher at Northwestern University's Feinberg School, said, according to the Daily Mail. "High levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines can contribute to synaptic malfunction."
Researchers administered the drug three times per week to mice engineered to develop Alzheimer's disease. At 11 months, mice given the drug had normal cytokine levels while mice not given the drug had advanced-stage Alzheimer's.
Researchers said the drug can also be used to treat other brain injuries that result from inflammation.
"If you took a drug like this early on after traumatic brain injury or even a stroke, you could possibly prevent the long-term complications of that injury including the risk of seizures, cognitive impairment, and, perhaps, mental health issues," Mark Wainright, a researcher from Northwestern University's Feinberg School, told the Daily Mail.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's include memory loss, confusion, difficulty completing familiar tasks, decreased judgment and problems speaking or writing.
Healthcare costs related to Alzheimer's disease totaled almost $8 billion in 2010, according to the Alzheimer's Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Alzheimer's patients in the federal and state governments.
There is as yet no cure or successful treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The Obama administration set a goal of 2025 to find an effective treatment and pledged to spend an additional $50 million on dementia research on top of the $450 million the government spends annually until a treatment is found.
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