Amyloid beta deposits in brain of Alzheimerâ€™s patient.
Whatâ€™s the News: A drug used to cure skin cancer is also a possible treatment for Alzheimerâ€™s, according to a new study inÂ Science.Â The drug not only reduced levels of amyloid betaâ€”a protein whose elevated levels are a hallmark of the diseaseâ€”but also reversed cognitive decline. In mice, dramatic effects were evident after just 72 hours.
How the Heck:
Based on known molecular pathways, the researchers thought that the skin cancer drug bexarotene could enhance expression of Â a gene called apoE.Â apoE activates the immune system to break down amyloid beta, and mutations in the apoE gene are a major risk factor for Alzheimerâ€™s.
Turns out the researchers were right. Mice with genetic mutations that make them prone to the disease are the standard model for Alzheimerâ€™s research. When these mice were treated with bexarotene,Â macrophages in their brain gobbled up amyloid beta, and the levels of amyloid beta fell by 40% in just 72 hours.
Molecular changes are good and all, but an effective drug for Alzheimerâ€™s also has to treat theÂ behavioralÂ symptoms. Bexarotene actually reversed cognitive deficits. The team put treated mice through standard memory tests, including …
from Discover Magazine