Published: Fri, February 16, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Researchers successfully reverse Alzheimer's in mice giving hope to human trials

Researchers successfully reverse Alzheimer's in mice giving hope to human trials

"Any potential link will need to be explored in much larger studies, but it is important to remember that people receive vital and often life-saving brain surgery every day in the United Kingdom and any potential risk of disease from these procedures is minimal".

This deterioration results in cognitive decline, including memory issues characteristic of dementia patients.

The deletion of just a single enzyme saw the near total reversal of the deposition of amyloid plaques found in brains of those with Alzheimer's, improving cognitive functions in the mouse subjects, according to the study from researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, published February 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The UT Southwestern team focused their research white matter within the brain, which is comprised of millions of bundles of nerve fibers used by neurons to communicate.

"This research supports the hypothesis that improving people's fitness may improve their brain health and slow down the aging process", explained lead study investigator Kan Ding, M.D., a neurologist at the Peter O'Donnell Jr.

A defective molecule, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, may have been transmitted into the brains of healthy patients when they had surgery as children or teenagers, scientists have said. This new study adds to findings that suggest this approach is a promising avenue for future therapies, but drugs that target this protein are yet to show any benefit to people with Alzheimer's in clinical trials.

"Evidence suggests that what is bad for your heart is bad for your brain", noted senior study author Rong Zhang, Ph.D., a professor at UT Southwestern and director of the cerebrovascular laboratory in the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Illustrating the tricky path current Alzheimer's research faces, the study was published literally hours after giant pharmaceutical company Merck announced the cancellation of a Phase 3 clinical trial surrounding a drug that targets the exact same enzyme. For instance, what fitness level is needed to notably reduce the risk of dementia?

An ongoing five-year national clinical trial conducted at the same institute is now seeking to determine if combinations of aerobic exercise and certain medications can help preserve brain function. The trial involves six medical centers across the country and 600 adults at high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about Alzheimer's disease. The researchers found that participants who were less physically fit tended to perform more poorly on memory and cognitive tests.

One of the most concrete ways in which Alzheimer's is identified in a patient is through an abnormal buildup of beta-amyloid peptide, a protein that can build into the large amyloid plaques in the brain that are a telltale sign of the deadly, and to date incurable disease.

"A lot of work remains to better understand and treat dementia", said Ding.

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