Friday, June 21, 2013

Steroids might slow Alzheimer’s disease progression

Anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease have to date proved disappointing, including a large study of low-dose prednisone, but higher dose of anabolic steroids significantly reduced amyloid secretion in a small series of nondemented patients. In addition, there is a case report of a patient with amyloid angiopathy who had complete remission from two doses of dexamethasone, and very high dose steroids are already used for systemic amyloidosis. This paper presents the hypothesis that pulse-dosed intrathecal methylprednisolone or dexamethasone will produce detectable slowing of Alzheimer’s progression, additive to that obtained with cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. 

A protocol based on treatment regimens for multiple sclerosis and central nervous system lupus is outlined, to serve as a basis for formulating clinical trials. Ultimately intrathecal corticosteroids might become part of a multi-agent regimen for Alzheimer’s disease and also have application for other neurodegenerative disorders.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gene May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

New research has identified a genetic mutation that may protect against both Alzheimer's disease and age-related declines in thinking and memory. And future drug treatments already in the pipeline may help prevent against both.

Amyloid protein plaques in the brain are seen in people with Alzheimer's disease. A gene for amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP) plays a key role in the formation of these plaques. Researchers from Reykjavik, Iceland, found that a mutation in this gene may help protect against Alzheimer's disease and age-related mental decline.

This mutation is rare, but, when present, confers about a 40% reduction in amyloid plaque-forming proteins. What's more, study participants between 80 to 100 years old without Alzheimer's disease who carry this mutation have better mental function than those without the mutation, the study shows.

Alzheimer's disease affects memory and thinking. Symptoms usually develop slowly and worsen with time. One in eight older Americans has Alzheimer's disease, making it the most common type of dementia in the U.S., according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New Chemical Approach to Treat Alzheimer's

Scientists developed a new chemical approach to help harness the natural ability of complex sugars to treat Alzheimer's disease.

The team used a new chemical method to produce a library of sugars, called heparan sulphates, which are known to control the formation of the proteins in the brain that cause memory loss.

Heparan sulphates are found in nearly every cell of the body, and are similar to the natural blood-thinning drug, heparin. Now scientists have discovered how to produce them chemically in the lab, and found that some of these sugars can inhibit an enzyme that creates small proteins in the brain.

These proteins, called amyloid, disrupt the normal function of cells leading to the progressive memory loss that is characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.

There are more than 800,000 people in the UK, and 50,000 in New Zealand living with dementia. Over half of these have Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia. The cost of these diseases to the UK economy stands at £23 billion, more than the cost of cancer and heart disease combined. Current treatments for dementia can help with symptoms, but there are no drugs available that can slow or stop the underlying disease.