NLM Director’s Comments Transcript Science .
New Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Approach: 04/09/2012
The study finds bexarotene, which was approved for skin cancer treatment in 1999, cleared half the beta-amyloid plaques in mice brains within 72 hours. Within 24 hours after taking bexarotene, mice showed a 25 percent drop in beta-amyloid fluid. The drop in beta-amyloid fluid increased to 75 percent after two weeks. In humans, beta-amyloid fluid and plaques are believed to be a cause of the cognitive declines that sadly occur among the nation’s 5.4 million Alzheimer’s disease patients.
The study also found the treated mice had a revived sense of smell, performed better on a water maze test, and regained their capability to build a nest. In other words, some functional abilities of the treated mice returned once their beta-amyloid plaques declined significantly.
The authors write (and we quote);’ bexarotene stimulated the rapid reversal of cognitive, social, and olfactory deficits and improved neural circuit function’ (end of quote). Gary Landreth Ph.D., Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, also told Time Magazine (and we quote), ‘the effect size and the speed seen with the drug is unprecedented and it gives us hope’ (end of quote).
Although the study’s 13 authors carefully warn it is premature to extrapolate from mice to humans, they note the study’s primary finding may be that bexarotene ferries beta-amyloid out of the brain. The latter is a new approach to counter Alzheimer’s disease’s undesired biochemical impacts within the brain and provides a fresh opportunity to assess the tactic’s efficacy.
In addition, the study’s new approach is well-timed because recent drug therapy approaches that tried to shut down the brain’s production of (rather than jettison) beta-amyloid plaques worked in mice but were unsuccessful in clinical trials of Alzheimer’s patients.
The authors expect clinical trials of bexarotene among Alzheimer’s disease patients will begin in the near future and emphasize it may be several years before the success or failure of the drug for Alzheimer’s treatment is established.
In a Case Western Reserve press release about the research Dr. Landreth added (and we quote): ‘This is a particularly exciting and rewarding study because of the new science we have discovered and the potential promise of a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease…. Our next objective is to ascertain if it acts similarly in humans. We are at an early stage in translating this basic science discovery into a treatment’ (end of quote).
MedlinePlus.gov’s Alzheimer’s disease health topic page explains Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia among older Americans. Dementia is a brain disorder that impairs a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease usually begins after age 60. While there is no current treatment to stop Alzheimer’s progression (which is what makes the current study promising), some drugs may slow the symptoms associated with the disease for a limited time.
MedlinePlus.gov’s Alzheimer’s disease health topic page provides comprehensive information about Alzheimer’s diagnosis/symptoms, treatment, prevention/screening and management. An interactive tour of the brain that explains how beta-amyloid fluid and plaques impact cognitive function is available in the ‘anatomy/physiology’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s Alzheimer’s disease health topic page.
A description of the currently available medications for Alzheimer’s disease (from the National Institute on Aging) can be found in the ‘treatment’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s Alzheimer’s disease health topic page. Information about bexarotene is available in MedlinePlus.gov’s drugs and supplements section.
MedlinePlus.gov’s Alzheimer’s disease health topic page also contains updated research summaries, which are available within the ‘research’ section. Links to the latest pertinent journal research articles are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to related clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. From the Alzheimer’s disease health topic page, you can sign up to receive email updates with links to new information as it becomes available on MedlinePlus.
To find MedlinePlus.gov’s Alzheimer’s disease health topic page, please type ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ that’s ‘A…l…z…h…e…i…m…e…r ’…s’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page, then, click on ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ (National Library of Medicine).’
Other related health topic pages within MedlinePlus.gov include: Alzheimer’s caregivers, dementia, and mild cognitive impairment.
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