Could a drinkable drug cocktail reverse Alzheimer’s? Solution restored memories of mice and stopped the disease in its tracks
- Tens of millions of people around the world suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease
- There is no cure, treatments are limited and more and more people are dying of the devastating brain disease
- Scientists at Yale University wanted to find a way to disrupt the early protein binding that leads to the disease
- They discovered that an old antibiotic in a liquid form stops this process in mice, restores synaptic connections in their brains and even restores memory
Scientists have discovered a drinkable drug cocktail that shows promise for blocking Alzheimer’s-related decline and even restoring memory.
For the 44 million people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, there is nothing to cure the devastating illness, and little more available to treat its symptoms.
Researchers at Yale University are among many scientists the world over who are searching for some solution to this growing problem as the population ages.
The Yale team discovered a way to retool an old antibiotic – known as Suprax, or cefixime – to treat the devastating form of dementia in mice and soon plan to test it in a larger sample of human Alzheimer’s patients.
Scientists at Yale University discovered that an old antibiotic retooled into a liquid form may restore synaptic connections, memories and stop Alzheimer’s Disease
In the US, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death overall, and the fifth among those over 65.
As our population ages – particularly the baby boomer generation, in the US – the disease is only striking more and more people down.
There are a handful of drugs used to ease Alzheimer’s symptoms, such as irregular moods, and they may help to slow cognitive decline.
But their effects are typically temporary, and the medications become decreasingly effective as the disease progresses in the brain.
In recent years, scientists have worked out that the buildup of amyloid beta beta protein plaques seems to mark the disease.
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This has given drug developers a target for treating Alzheimer’s.
As prion proteins and amyloid beta bind to one another, plaques develop on the brain, this triggers an immune system response, and the combination damages synaptic connections and therefore disrupts the brain’s activity and communication between regions.
‘We wanted to find molecules that might have an effect on this network,’ lead study author Dr Stephen Strittmatter said.
The goal for him and his team was to find a compound that would keep prion proteins and amyloid beta from one another, interfering with the series of events that leads to Alzheimer’s at its earliest stages.
After trying tens of thousands of different compounds, the researchers landed on an old antibiotic, sold under the brand name Suprax, or generically as cefixime, which seemed to have the unexpected – but desired – effect of disrupting this joining process.
But there was a catch: the drug didn’t work in its original form, but only after it had been decomposed to another.
Once they did this and dissolved it into a liquid form, the Yale team fed the new form of the old antibiotic to mice that had been bred to develop a similar brain disease to Alzheimer’s.
Remarkably, synaptic connections in the animals’ brains that had been broken were repaired, and the mice even regained some of their memory.
At Dartmouth University, a partner research team used the same drug cocktail to ‘treat’ cells with another even faster-moving form of dementia, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease. The drug worked in those tests, too.
The scientists’ next step will be to test the safety of new treatment drink.
If it doesn’t appear to have dangerous side effects in animals, they will develop a version of the drug designed for humans and begin clinical trials for the promising new drug.
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