In a breakthrough study, scientists from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology have discovered new chemical that can destroy the toxic plaques in brain in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the death of neurons. Accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain is believed to cause the death of neurons leading to neurodegeneration.
In their preliminary tests, researchers found that adding the chemical to the drinking water cleared amyloid plaques from the brains of mice with Alzhemier’s like symptoms and restored cognitive function.
The chemical, 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazinepropanesulphonic acid (EPPS) is very similar to the amino acid taurine and the researchers discovered its potential while screening a variety of molecules for their effects on amyloid plaques. In their latest study they administered EPPS through drinking water to mice that had amyloid plaques injected into their brains. They found that administering EPPS for a week improved the performance of mice in maze tests and successfully cleared the amyloid plaques.
“Our findings clearly support the view that aggregated amyloid-beta is the pathological culprit of Alzheimer’s disease,” said YoungSoo Kim, who led the team.
However the researchers emphasized that EPPS and other amyloid clearing drug candidates would not be effective at advanced stages of Alzheimer’s where the brain has undergone extensive damage but would be helpful at early stages or halt the disease progression at advanced stages.
Although it looks very promising the work is still in nascent stages and would require extensive studies to determine its efficacy in humans.
Kim agrees that much more work lies ahead, but he believes that drugs which destroy amyloid plaques could benefit Alzheimer’s patients if they can be given early enough in the course of the disease.
“If we could catch Alzheimer’s before this occurred, such an amyloid-removing drug might stop it in its tracks,” says neuroscientist Dr. Frances Edwards from the University College London.
While further tests are needed, these types of drugs would be beneficial for people with high probability of inheriting the disease.
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Source: The guardian