A Wonder drug has been developed that can halt Alzheimer’s in its tracks. The drug, which stops a toxic protein from building up in the brain, could spare millions of Britons from the devastating disease.
Scientists said last night that in just a few years a pill could be given to people at high risk of Alzheimer’s before tell-tale symptoms such as memory loss appear. The American team claimed that by taking a “completely different” approach to previous researchers they now have “a real chance at a successful treatment for Alzheimer’s” with few side effects.
Scientists believe Alzheimer’s develops when a protein called APP is cut up by enzymes and forms beta-amyloid, which kills brain cells. The researchers at University of California, San Diego, developed 10 proteins that bind to APP, four of which stopped it being cut up. Of these four, P8 had the strongest effect.
By infusing P8 into the brains of mice engineered to develop Alzheimer’s, the researchers significantly reduced production of the harmful beta-amyloid. Tests on human brain cells in laboratory culture dishes produced the same result.
The university’s Professor Nazneen Dewji said: “We now have a new approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that can arrest the production of beta-amyloid very early and specifically.
We now have a new approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that can arrest the production of beta-amyloid very early and specifically.
Professor Nazneen Dewji
“It is a real chance at a successful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Our approach is completely different from any current approaches that target beta- amyloid. We are blocking the actual production of beta-amyloid in a new way. “It is very promising because it means that, in principle, we can stop the disease in its tracks.”
The research appears in PLOS ONE, a respected journal published by the Public Library of Science. There are 850,000 people in the UK with dementia and 500,000 with Alzheimer’s but disturbing new estimates say more than two million will have the condition by 2050.
Experts say it could send the NHS into meltdown. Dr James Pickett, head of research for the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Many studies in Alzheimer’s are trying to stop the build-up of protein clumps in the brain and this interesting research has found a novel way to do it.
“This new compound could have fewer side effects than other drugs being tested, but there are many more steps required before it could move from animal studies into human trials. “It’s hugely positive to see the large volume of new research findings emerging at the moment – it shows we are starting to make good progress in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”
A ?30million Drug Discovery Alliance was set up at Oxford, Cambridge and University College London in February to try to find effective treatments for dementia. Prof Giampietro Schiavo, of UCL, said dementia was “one of the biggest challenges our society is facing”.
He added: “It is my hope that by 2020 we will have between one and three early drugs per centre that will be ready for clinical settings. “If so, we will have between three and nine shots to provide an answer to this emergency.”
PUBLISHED: Thu, Apr 30, 2015 | UPDATED: Fri, May 1, 2015.By GILES SHELDRICK
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