The race to find a cure or treatment in the battle against Alzheimer’s Disease has to date been a futile effort. No drugs on the market can effectively treat or cure Alzheimer’s and related dementia conditions. While this could require years of additional patience, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine are working with an experimental drug, called CA, which appears to have reversed key symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the JPB Foundation, the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and by the Backus Foundation.
Animal trials and tests are not human tests, but according to the report the experimental drug effectively reinvigorates a cellular cleaning mechanism to eliminate unwanted proteins simply by digesting and recycling those proteins. The study showed that fewer protein clumps were present in brain neurons of the treated mice versus brain of untreated mice.
Many drugs have started out in mouse models and shown promise, but none have delivered key treatments to humans with Alzheimer’s. What was encouraging in this latest report was the drop-off in cellular cleaning that contributes to Alzheimer’s Disease in mice is that this also occurs in humans who have the debilitating disease.
As people age, there is an increased risk that these unwanted proteins accumulate in clumps which damage brain cells. As for the interplay between chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) and Alzheimer’s disease, a loss of CMA in neurons has been shown to contribute to Alzheimer’s and vice versa. The new data suggest that drugs to boost CMA may end up as treatments against neurodegenerative diseases.
Earlier research shows that CMA activity was somewhat inhibited in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. A much greater CMA inhibition was seen in people who suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s. The report also noted that as people reach 70 or 80 years of age their CMA activity has usually decreased by about 30% versus younger aged adults. The studies also indicated that CMA deficiency interacts synergistically with Alzheimer’s, and that leads to a rapid acceleration for the progression of the disease.
According to the early data, this experimental drug revitalizes CMA efficiency as it boosts levels of a key CMA component. Researchers tested CA in two different mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and the results showed that treatment over 4 months to 6 months showed improvements in memory, depression, and anxiety. Another observation was that walking ability significantly improved in the animal model, and the experimental drug also lowered levels of tau protein and protein clumps versus untreated animals.
There was also an indication that the experimental drug could preserve neuron function even in later stages of Alzheimer’s. Another positive observation showed that treatment with CA does not show harm to other organs even when administered daily for an extended time period.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer disease currently affects more than 5 million Americans. This is a disease that the risk increases with age. As more people live longer, the incidence is expected to increase significantly in coming decades.
The fight against Alzheimer’s Disease has so far not yielded any significant treatments that show enough efficacy to merit FDA approval of a drug. There have been multiple companies which were deemed to be close to a treatment, but one issue which has been a thorn is that many researches do not even agree about the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.
More details of the study can be found at the Einstein site, which also shows a video that has been prepared.