Scientists in the United Kingdom have announced a major breakthrough in Alzheimer’s disease research, with the discovery of a compound that stopped the death of brain cells in mice.
Although the prospect of a pill for Alzheimer’s remains a long way off, the landmark British study provides a major new pathway for future drug treatments.
The compound works by blocking a faulty signal in brains affected by neurodegenerative diseases, which shuts down the production of essential proteins, leading to brain cells being unprotected and dying off.
It was tested in mice with prion disease – the best animal model of human neurodegenerative disorders – but scientists said they were confident the same principles would apply in a human brain with debilitating brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. …In mice with prion’s disease, it restored proteins to protect brain cells “stopping the disease in its tracks”, restoring some normal behaviors and preventing memory loss.
“It’s a real step forward,” research leader Giovanna Mallucci told The Independent. “It’s the first time a substance has been given to mice that prevents brain disease. The fact that this is a compound that can be given orally, that gets into the brain and prevents brain disease, is a first in itself… We can go forward and develop better molecules and I can’t see why preventing this process should only be restricted to mice.”
The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.