New hope for preventative Alzheimer's drug

New hope for preventative Alzheimer's drug

A team at the University of Cambridge have suggested that a number of new drugs could help protect against the early steps of Alzheimer's disease, preventing the initial stages of neurological damage.

According to the early findings, the drugs could significantly change the prognosis of people diagnosed with the condition, if they can be proven safe for use in humans.

The researchers' aim is to now match up the individual drugs to specific stages of Alzheimer's disease, highlighting which could be most effective.  

Currently, most drugs for the condition manage the symptoms associated with the disease, but the new approach looks to stop the condition occurring in the first place.

The team theorise that the drugs treat the brain much like statins protect the heart from cardiac disease, offering a potential "neurostatin" to safeguard against Alzheimer's disease.

One of the drugs - bexarotene - is able to stop one of the initial phases of the condition, and the first to lead to the death of brain cells.

The research, published in Science Advances, could point to future treatment for people with Alzheimer's disease, but could also work as a preventative method to avoid anyone at-risk being diagnosed with the condition at all.

Speaking about the findings, Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society, said previous studies have looked at bexarotene, which is commonly used as a cancer drug, and found that it has not been successful in people. 

"This research in worms suggests that the drug should now be tested in the very early stages of Alzheimer's, as it may stop amyloid plaques from forming in the first place," he explained.

However, the drug does have a number of side effects when used to treat cancer, including skin complaints, headaches, and sickness.

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