Cancer drug shows promise in Alzheimer's mice

Thursday, March 15, 2012

US RESEARCHERS said Tuesday a cancer drug has shown promise toward improving memory when given to older mice with Alzheimer's disease.

The drug, epothilone or EpoD, had previously been shown by the same team of scientists at the University of Pennsylvania to prevent cognitive decline in young mice who were bred to show Alzheimer's-like symptoms later in life.

But their latest study showed that benefits in learning and memory extended to older mice who showed signs of Alzheimer's, offering one more step toward someday trying the treatment in humans with the incurable form of dementia.

The drug appears to work by stabilising nutrient-transporting structures in nerve cells known as microtubules, which break down when clumps of a protein called tau build up in the brain, causing what are known as "tangles" in the nerve cells.

EpoD functions like a well-known chemotherapy drug, paclitaxel, but is different in that it crosses the blood-brain barrier, said lead author Kurt Brunden, whose study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

"EpoD readily enters the brain, where it appears to persist for a much longer time than in the blood. This may explain why low doses were both effective and safe in the mouse model of Alzheimer's disease."AFP

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