Medical researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a drug intended for diabetes appears to restore memory in Alzheimer's brain cells.
Jack Jhamandas, a researcher with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the U of A, is the principal investigator with the team whose research results were recently published in the peer-reviewed publication The Journal of Neuroscience. He works in the Division of Neurology.
The team took brain tissue from animal models with Alzheimer's disease and tested the tissue in the lab, looking specifically at the cells' memory capacity. When brain cells are shocked by a barrage of electrical impulses, the cells "remember" the experience and this is a typical way to test or measure memory in the lab setting.
Amyloid protein, which is found in abnormally large amounts in the memory and cognition parts of the brains of Alzheimer's patients, diminishes memory. A sister protein, known as amylin, which comes from the pancreas of diabetic patients, has the same impact on memory cells.
Jhamandas and his team demonstrated last year that a diabetes drug that never made it to market, known as AC253, could block the toxic effects of amyloid protein that lead to brain cell death.
In the lab, Jhamandas and his teammates, which included Ryoichi Kimura, a visiting scientist from Japan, tested the memory of normal brain cells and those with Alzheimer's—both from animal models. When the drug AC253 was given to brain cells with Alzheimer's and the shock memory tests were redone, memory was restored to levels similar to those in normal cells.
"This is very important because it tells us that drugs like this might be able to restore memory, even after Alzheimer's disease may have set in," says Jhamandas.
His team is continuing their research in this area and wants to see if the drug, when given before symptoms appear, can "stop the impairment of behaviour and cognition altogether in animals destined to develop Alzheimer's," says Jhamandas. Their continued research tests will take a least a year to complete.
He noted it is difficult for AC253 to cross the brain barrier, so research teams in pharmaceutical companies would need to design a similar drug that is easier to penetrate brain cells. Jhamandas says if the tests are successful, he thinks clinical trials could start within about five years, but he stressed that further testing needs to be done before such trials can occur.
"I think what we discovered may be part of the solution, but I can't say it will be the solution. There is a long list of drugs and approaches that haven't panned out as expected in the fight against Alzheimer's. I don't think one drug or approach will solve Alzheimer's disease because it's a complicated disease, but I am cautiously optimistic about our discovery and its implications."
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded the work of Jhamandas and his team.
"An estimated 1,125,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's over the coming 30 years," said Yves Joanette, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Aging. "To respond to this growing health care challenge, CIHR developed the International Collaborative Research Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease. The strategy aims to give Canadians rapid access to the latest approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias. The findings by Dr. Jhamandas could eventually help reduce the personal, social and economic impacts for Alzheimer's Disease."
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry: http://www.med.ualberta.ca
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Over its lifetime, Earth has hosted countless species. But some of those species, like the dinosaurs, have managed to claw their way into a special place in our imaginations. Now, a new book illustrates the dinosaurs — and many of the beasts of millennia ago — in beautiful, spectacular and vicious style.
Monkeys have been taught to add, giving the best evidence yet for primates' maths skills and offering a path towards solving how the brain encodes numbers
Comparisons with Neanderthal DNA may point to genes that make us uniquely human and uncover the origins of genetic ailments.
A pair of swans suggests Love Eternal. You often see them in twos, gliding together. But they're not Nature's Coupliest Birds. Which are?
Hundreds of animals trek 240 kilometers across Wyoming
The largest specimen among Earth's first flying vertebrates boasted a 10-metre wingspan, dwarfing modern-day giants Continue reading...
How can creatures as different in body and mind as present-day humans and their extinct Neanderthal cousins be 99.84 percent identical genetically?
A mile deep expedition using robots has discovered three ships that sank off the coast of Galveston centuries ago. Archeologists are still unsure of why the vessels sunk.
Scientists based their technique on the one used to create the sheep Dolly years ago. These cells might one day be useful in treating all sorts of diseases.
It turns out the first chili peppers were grown by humans in eastern Mexico. And it's not the same region where beans and corn were first grown, according to new ways of evaluating evidence.