ALZHEIMER’S IS REVERSED IN MICE TESTS
Hopes raised that drugs targeting danger enzyme can be made for humans
ALZHEIMER’S disease has been successfully reversed in mice – offering hope of the first therapy for humans.
An enzyme in the brain that fuels rogue proteins at the root of the devastating neurological illness was destroyed, improving the animals’ cognitive function, boosting learning and memory.
The key was blocking a chemical called BACE1, which has been at the heart of dementia research for years.
This helps produce molecules known as beta amyloid that clump together in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Gradually depleting BACE1 got rid of these destructive plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s.
There have been previous attempts to develop drugs that inhibit BACE1 but these have mostly failed due to side-effects such as liver toxicity and eye problems.
Last year, a trial of a drug developed by Merck was abandoned before it could be completed after disappointing results.
But findings published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine raise fresh hope that drugs targeting this enzyme will eventually be able to successfully treat the disease.
Dr Riqiang Yan, of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute in the US, said: “To our knowledge, this is the first observation of such a dramatic reversal of amyloid deposition in any study of Alzheimer’s disease mouse models.
“Our study provides genetic evidence that preformed amyloid deposition can be completely reversed.
“Our data show that BACE1 inhibitors have the potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease patients without unwanted toxicity.”
There are 850,000 people with dementia in Britain, and this figure is expected to reach one million by 2025. Alzheimer’s is its most common form.
Cache for questions
French customs officers have seized nearly 500 guns, hand grenades and a huge arsenal of ammunition from a sports shop owner in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
BREAKTHROUGH Mice study could help sufferers