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New Alzheimer's drug 'without side effects'

27th February 2007

Scientists have identified a new drug which could be used to treat Alzheimer's without causing patients to suffer side-effects.

The researcher found a therapeutic target, called casein kinase 1, which could stop the disease developing without interfering with other pathways and causing side effects.

Alzheimer's sufferers have a build up of the beta-amyloid protein. However, the enzyme which creates beta-amyloid also produces the Notch protein, which is vital for the development of healthy brain cells.

Current drugs block both proteins, but researcher found that the casein kinase 1 reduce beta-amyloid without harming Notch.

"Studies of brain tissue from Alzheimer's patients have shown an increase in casein kinase 1 expression," said study leader Paul Greengard, the director of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at Rockefeller.

He added that the key enzymes involved in producing beta-amyloid "were targets of casein kinase 1", prompting the researchers to investigate what role it might be playing.

This would mean that a drug based on these chemicals could halt the build up of beta-amyloid without causing side effects.

"Numerous efforts have been directed at the development of drugs that inhibit gamma-secretase," Mr Greengard noted.

"But there have been significant side effects in animal studies. Our hope is that this research might lead to drugs that don't have those problems."

The study appears in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.