Scientists Reverse Alzheimer's in Mice

Amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease

Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer's disease.

Unlike Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes one death per million people each year, amyloid beta build-up is very common among the elderly, even when there are no signs of dementia.

Just hours before this latest Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute study was published, another blow to the field came when Merck announced it was discontinuing a Phase 3 clinical trial into a drug called verubecestat, following a recommendation suggesting, "it was unlikely that positive benefit/risk could be established if the trial continued".

The protein is found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, though it is not known if it is a cause or symptom, and researchers say cleaning protocols should be reviewed to ensure they're still adequate. For example, mice that completely lack BACE1 suffer severe defects in their early brain development.

The researchers tested the hypothesis by engineering a group of mice that lose the BACE1 enzyme as they grow older.

Yan says clinical trials on five BACE1-inhibitor drugs as a possible treatment for Alzheimers are now underway, FOX News said. These mice developed normally and appeared to remain perfectly healthy over time.

The resulting offspring inherited both traits - a vulnerability to Alzheimer's and gradually declining BACE1 levels.

Expressing optimism that the new discovery could lead to drugs that work more effectively without side-effects, research team leader Riqiang Yan said: "Our data show that BACE1 inhibitors have the potential to treat Alzheimer's disease patients without unwanted toxicity". "Future studies should develop strategies to minimize the synaptic impairments arising from significant inhibition of BACE1 to achieve maximal and optimal benefits for Alzheimer's patients".

The loss of BACE1 also "improved learning abilities and memory in mice" with Alzheimer's. "We need studies like this to find out how the two are intertwined and hopefully find the right formula to help prevent Alzheimer's disease", said Dr. Rong Zhang of UT Southwestern.

Investigating a quartet of mysterious cases in Britain of brain lesions caused by amyloid beta deposits in young adult patients, they found that all four had undergone brain surgery as kids, suggesting a causal link.

"This study didn't look at whether those who underwent neurosurgery in childhood went on to develop Alzheimer's disease and there is now no evidence that Alzheimer's can be transmitted through brain surgery". Brain Institute at UT Southwestern.

We still may be some years away from an effective Alzheimer's disease treatment, but all is certainly not lost with many dedicated researchers still working hard to find potentially useful drug targets.

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