If you have a parent who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and you’re worried about the future, there may be really good news for you and your parents: scientists in Great Britain may have found a solution to stop all neurodegenerative brain diseases, including dementia.
Prior to the most recent discovery, the best scientists could do was terminate brain cells dying in an animal in 2013. Unfortunately the drug used caused organ damage.
But now, two drugs used at the MRC Toxicology Unit in Leicester have been safely used in people. Prof Giovanna Mallucci, from that unit, is so excited she wants to start human clinical trials on dementia patients.
According to the abstract for the clinical study, people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have an overactivated pathway in their brains in the PERK/eIF2α-P branch of the unfolded protein response. Thus re-establishing translation rates by inhibition of eIF2α-P activity could restore memory and prevent neurodegeneration.
The scientists employed trazodone hydrochloride and dibenzoylmethane, which both reversed eIF2α-P-mediated translational attenuation. In mice suffering fromneurodegeneration, trazodone and dibenzoylmethane treatment restored memory deficits, abrogated development of neurological signs, prevented neurodegeneration and significantly prolonged survival.
The study concluded:
These drugs therefore represent an important step forward in the pursuit of disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s and related disorders. Trazodone in particular, is already licensed for use in elderly patients. These drugs should now be tested in clinical trials in the treatment of dementia.
Prof. Mallucci said: "It's time for clinical trials to see if there's similar effects in people and put our money where our mouth is. We're very unlikely to cure them completely, but if you arrest the progression you change Alzheimer's disease into something completely different so it becomes liveable with."