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Researchers Find Compound that can Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease Progression

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Jun 03, 2014 02:46 AM EDT
Alzheimer's disease
(Photo : REUTERS/Nacho Doce)

Researchers have found that a compound, 2-PMAP, halves the level of amyloid protein, which are associated with Alzheimer's disease. The study was conducted on animal models, but scientists are hopeful that the compound could be used to slow down or delay Alzheimer's disease progression in humans too.

Alzheimer's disease is a common form of dementia, affecting older people. People with AD have problems performing everyday tasks. Around five million people in the U.S. have AD.

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The study was conducted by researchers at the NYU Langone Medical Center. According to scientists, 2-PMAP is non-toxic in mice and lowers the levels of amyloid protein.

Previous research has shown that amyloid beta protein forms plaques in the brain, causing thinking and memory problems.

"What we want in an Alzheimer's preventive is a drug that modestly lowers amyloid beta and is also safe for long term use," said lead author of the study Martin J. Sadowski, MD, PhD., associate professor of neurology, psychiatry, and biochemistry and molecular pharmacology.

"Statin drugs that lower cholesterol appear to have those properties and have made a big impact in preventing coronary artery disease. That's essentially what many of us envision for the future of Alzheimer's medicine," Sadowski added, according to a press release.

Some people, such as a group in Iceland, carry a mutation that slows down the accumulation of amyloid beta protein in the brain. These people have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.

Dr Sadowski and colleagues sifted through various compounds to find one that could lower the level of the protein in the brain. The new compound reduces the levels of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the brain.

Researchers conducted test on cell lines as well as mice models. They found that even at low concentrations, the compound lowered APP levels. The mice used in the study were genetically engineered and had a mutation that gave them the hereditary form of the Alzheimer's disease.

According to the researchers, the compound easily crosses from the bloodstream into the brain, meaning that it doesn't require complex medication that might lower its effects.

Additionally, the compound is highly selective and so acts only on amyloid proteins and doesn't interfere with other brain chemicals.

The study is published in the journal Annals of Neurology. 

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