A team of researchers from the Glasgow University in Scotland is on the verge of a major breakthrough in medicine. They claim to have discovered a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative condition responsible for causing severe dementia in approximately 47 million reported cases worldwide.
The researchers say that the new drug is not only capable to slow down memory loss, but it can restore memories and even extend the patient’s life. However, until this point, clinical trials were conducted only on mice population. Nevertheless, the results look promising.
According to the researchers, the drug dubbed allosteric ligands focuses on activating a protein in the human brain involved with memory. When a patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the protein which can be found in the hippocampus, becomes less active. However, the team says that they have designed the experimental drug to re-activate the protein, in order to improve memory.
The lead author of the study and professor of molecular biology at the University of Glasgow, Andrew Tobin claims that the drug also extends life in mice population treated for Alzheimer’s. However, at this point, the researchers still do not know what exactly is protecting the neurons from degeneration. Nevertheless, professor Tobin says that the next step the team will take towards creating a cure for Alzheimer’s will be to understand the biochemical process that promotes prolonged life.
As of now, treatments for Alzheimer’s disease can only ease the symptoms, rather than cure the disease. However, the team of researchers believes to have stumbled upon an actual treatment.
So far, the experiments involved breeding mice in developing mad cow disease, very similar to Alzheimer’s in human subjects when it comes to memory loss, disease progression, and death. Upon receiving the treatment, mice models exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s were able to recall receiving a mild electric shock. On the other hand, the mice population who did not receive the drug forgot about the stimulus.
Even though the findings look promising and the researchers believe they are paving the way for a revolutionary treatment, professor Tobin warns that an effective drug, free of side effects could be available in 10 years’ time or even more.
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