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Cancer drug restores memory in mice with Alzheimer's


 
Published Date: 01 Apr, 2015 (12:15 PM)

Washington, April 1 (IANS) An experimental cancer drug has been found to restore memory and connections between brain cells in mice with Alzheimer's disease and researchers believe that the drug could one day treat human patients.

Developed by biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the drug, AZD05030 proved disappointing in treating solid tumours but it appeared to block damage triggered during the formation of amyloid-beta plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Published in the journal Annals of Neurology, the findings have led to the launch of human trials to test the efficacy of the drug in Alzheimer's patients.

"With this treatment, cells under bombardment by beta amyloid plaques show restored synaptic connections and reduced inflammation, and the animal's memory, which was lost during the course of the disease, comes back," said senior author of the study Stephen Strittmatter, professor at the Yale School of Medicine.

In the last five years, scientists have developed a more complete understanding of the complex chain of events that leads to Alzheimer's disease.

The new drug blocks one of those molecular steps, activation of the enzyme FYN, which leads to the loss of synaptic connections between brain cells. Several other steps in the disease process have the potential to be targets for new drugs, Strittmatter said.

The new study was funded by an innovative National Institutes of Health (NIH) programme to test failed drugs on different diseases.

"The speed with which this compound moved to human trials validates our New Therapeutic Uses program model and serves our mission to deliver more treatments to more patients more quickly," said Christopher Austin, director of the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

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