Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently tested a promising new compound that could help reverse symptoms of Alzheimer´s disease and restore memory in laboratory mice.
Alzheimer´s is a form of degenerative dementia that can affect behavior, memory and thinking. While there is currently no cure, researchers continue to look at treatments for symptoms of the disease. The findings of the study were recently featured in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal. The study showed that when the molecule TFP5 was injected into mice that had a disease similar to that of Alzheimer´s, the symptoms were changed and memory was restored without any significant side effects.
“We hope that clinical trial studies in AD patients should yield an extended and a better quality of life as observed in mice upon TFP5 treatment,” remarked Harish C. Pant, a senior researcher who works at the Laboratory of Neurochemistry at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders at Stroke at the NIH, in a statement. “Therefore, we suggest that TFP5 should be an effective therapeutic compound.”
TFP5 is derived from Cdk5, a regulator of an important brain enzyme. Overactivation of CdK5 can result in the formation of plaques and tangles in the brain, a common feature of Alzheimer´s disease. In the study, the researchers utilized mice that had a disease that is considered as the equivalent of Alzheimer’s. Two groups of mice were given different injections; one group was given injections of the small molecule TFP5, while another group was injected with a saline placebo.
The mice that were given injections of TFP5 in a body cavity showed a significant decline in the disease symptoms as well as a restoration of memory loss. They also demonstrated no significant change in weight, behavior or symptoms of toxicity. In the group of control mice, however, the disease continued to progress at normal rates.
Based on these finding, the researchers believe that the continued study of the effects of TFP5 may help to better understand how it can be utilized in developing treatments for Alzheimer´s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
“The next step is to find out if this molecule can have the same effects in people, and if not, to find out which molecule will,” noted Dr. Gerald Weissmann, Editor in Chief of the FASEB Journal. “Now that we know that we can target the basic molecular defects in Alzheimer’s disease, we can hope for treatments far better — and more specific — than anything we have today.”
The study comes at a particularly important time as Alzheimer´s continues to affect large numbers of people throughout the world. According to the Alzheimer´s Association, about 5.4 million people in the U.S. are suffering from Alzheimer´s disease, and it is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the country. The disease is costly as well, with payments for care estimated at $200 billion in the U.S. in 2012. In order to help health care providers assess cognitive health, the organization provides a comprehensive guide on evaluating and determining possible cognitive impairment.
“As a leader in the Alzheimer´s community, the Alzheimer´s Association believes that part of its role is to fuel the advancement of early detection and diagnosis. The Workgroup recommendations empower and equip physicians with a pathway that allows them to make informed choices about which structured assessment tools work best for them and the patients they serve,” commented Bill Thies, the chief medical scientific officers of the Alzheimer´s Association, in a prepared statement.
“Whether the tools the Workgroup identified are used or other detection instruments, informal observation is not enough.”