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New Alzheimer’s Treatment Identified

New Alzheimer’s Treatment Identified
May 05
13:30 2016
As reported in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, scientists have identified a drug capable of reversing specific genetic changes associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Aging takes a toll on all parts of the human body. As we age, the cells within the hippocampus (a region of the brain crucial to memory and learning) are particularly susceptible to changes that may lead to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

“In aging and Alzheimer’s, the chemical signal glutamate can accumulate between neurons, damaging the circuitry,” explains head researcher Ana Pereira of Rockefeller University in New York.

Her team has identified Riluzole, a drug already used to treat the neurological disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment. The drug is already considered safe for human use.

“When we treated rats with Riluzole, we saw a suite of changes. Perhaps most significantly, expression of molecules responsible for clearing excess glutamate returned to more youthful levels.”

In Pereira’s study, Riluzole was able to modify the activity of particular genes in aging rats to resemble that of a younger specimen.

The gene EAAT2, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, has been shown to help remove excess glutamate from the body’s nerve fibers. The expression of this gene declines with age. When treated with Riluzole, EAAT2 was restored to a more youthful level and old rats were less prone to memory loss.

“We hope to use a medication to break the cycle of toxicity by which glutamate can damage the neurons that use it as a neurotransmitter, and our studies so far suggest that Riluzole may b able to accomplish this,” says Pereira. She is currently involved in a human trial at Rockefeller University Hospital.

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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