Researchers from the Salk Institute have found an experimental drug that might be able to combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug has already demonstrated success in animal testing.
The drug is currently referred to as J147, and it has been used in mice to improve their memory and cognition, while also enhancing the blood vessels within their brains. Overall, the drug targets many of the effects that come about with old age.
Lead author of the study Antonio Currais said, “Initially, the impetus was to test this drug in a novel animal model that was more similar to 99 percent of Alzheimer's cases. We did not predict we’d see this sort of anti-aging effect, but J147 made old mice look like they were young, based upon a number of physiological parameters.”
Alzheimer’s has been ranked as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Over five million Americans are affected by the disease, and it is the most common cause of dementia in senior citizens.
The J147 drug differs from other Alzheimer’s medication because it specifically targets the effects of old age. Most traditional drugs that are created to fight Alzheimer’s focus on amyloid plaque deposits within the brain. These deposits are said to be a telltale sign of the disease. However, none of these traditional drugs have proven to be very successful.
So far, J147 has been shown to prevent and reverse memory loss in mice that have a version of Alzheimer’s. Still, there is reason to be skeptical, as the form of Alzheimer’s in the mice is only found in about 1% of the Alzheimer’s cases in humans. That being said, virtually every form of Alzheimer’s is caused by old age, and since J147 specifically targets old age, it could prove to be a very effective method of treatment.
The study involved mice that were genetically designed to rapidly age. The mice that received J147 performed better on memory tests than mice that did not receive the medication. Research showed that these mice had fewer signs of Alzheimer’s in their brains. Also, the mice on J147 were able to move around better than the control mice.
For now, more research needs to be conducted before any definitive statements can be made. The team plans to begin testing on humans starting next year.