A cancer drug experimented in mice found effective for restoring memory and also for developing connections between the brain cells. These mice were suffering from Alzheimerâ€™s and it is trusted that the drug one day could be used for treating humans.
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 Alzheimerâ€™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 Alzheimerâ€™s patients.
“With this treatment, cells under bombardment by beta amyloid plaques show restored synaptic connections and reduced inflammation, and the animalâ€™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 Alzheimerâ€™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 NIHâ€™s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.