Many Care2 readers might not like to hear about this research conducted using mice. (While it’s too late to protest this particular instance, protesting the use of animals in research generally is still worthwhile.)
Aside from the animal issues, it is good news – a cancer drug called bexarotene was found to reduce amyloid beta, the protein in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s, and it improved cognitive function in mice. The reduction of that protein was 25 percent in just six hours.
“The data we provide here really suggest that Alzheimer’s could be, in the early stages, a reversible disease,” explained Paige Cramer, a graduate student at Case Western Reserve. (Source: MSNBC)
Mice with a mouse model of Alzheimer’s were used. Every mouse tested for nest building, maze running, smell, and fear conditioning was affected by the cancer drug.
It isn’t clear yet if positive results in mice from bexarotene will also be achievable in humans. Bexarotene is believe to have the ability to help clear amyloid beta from brain tissue by promoting the production of another protein called Apolipoprotein E.
In 2008, a different research study noted the potential of Apolipoprotein E to reduce amyloid beta, “Our data suggest that therapeutic agents that increase the levels of lipidated forms of ApoE, including LXR agonists, represent a potentially efficacious therapy for AD,” said one of the researchers. (Source: Science Daily)
Research on humans with Alzheimer’s using bexarotene might begin late this year. Bexarotene is an FDA-approved drug used to treat a type of skin cancer. Using an existing drug is a smart approach because developing a new one from scratch can be very expensive and time-consuming. Plus, this one already has been approved for one disease, so achieving another FDA approval might be quicker, should it prove to be a successful treatment.
Over five million Americans are believed to have Alzheimer’s. In 2010 82,000 American deaths were caused by it.
Some research also has shown turmeric could prevent or reduce the formation of the amyloid proteins.
Image Credit: NIH, Public Domain