Researchers at Yale University have identified a drinkable cocktail of designer molecules that interferes with a first step of Alzheimer’s disease and even restores memories in mice, according to a study published today in the journal Cell Reports.
Senior author Stephen Strittmatter and research scientist Erik Gunther screened tens of thousands of compounds looking for molecules that might interfere with the damaging prion protein interaction with amyloid beta.
They found that an old antibiotic looked like a promising candidate but was only active after decomposing to form a polymer. Related small polymers retained the benefit and also managed to pass through the blood-brain barrier.
They then dissolved the optimised polymeric compound and fed it to mice engineered to have a condition that mimics Alzheimer’s. They found that synapses in the brains were repaired and mice recovered lost memory.
The next step is to verify the compounds aren’t toxic in preparation for translation to clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer's Society, said:
'There hasn’t been a new dementia drug for 15 years so it’s promising to see the results of this study in mice. But there is still a long way to go before we can say if this treatment is safe or effective in people.
We’ve known for some time that the amyloid protein is involved in Alzheimer’s disease, and our researchers are hard at work to understand exactly how - so although this study is very early stages, it’s an exciting line of investigation with the potential to one day revolutionise dementia treatment.'
Our Drug Discovery programme is looking into whether diabetes and arthritis treatments could benefit people with dementia, so it’s fascinating that something based on antibiotics could too.
Of the top ten killers, dementia is the only one we can’t stop or even slow down, so we urgently need to find new ways of tackling this devastating disease, and to diagnose people quicker so that potential treatments like this ‘drinkable cocktail’ might be more effective.'