JAN 14, 2020 12:27 PM PST

Promising Treatment for Dementia: Antibiotics

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

A class of antibiotics, known as the ‘aminoglycosides’ may serve as a promising treatment for frontotemporal dementia—according to researchers at the University of Kentucky's College of Medicine. The findings were a result of a proof-of-concept study published in the journal, Human Molecular Genetics.

Frontotemporal dementia affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain leading to behavioral changes, and challenges in speaking, writing, and retaining memory. It is one of the most common types of dementia second to Alzheimer's disease and typically begins between the ages 40 and 65. A certain group of individuals affected by this dementia have a mutation in their genome that prevents brain cells from manufacturing a protein called ‘progranulin’. Even though progranulin is not really widely understood its absence is believed to be linked to dementia.

Learn more about frontotemporal dementia:

"These patients' brain cells have a mutation that prevents progranulin from being made. The team found that by adding a small antibiotic molecule to the cells, they could 'trick' the cellular machinery into making it," said Matthew Gentry, a co-author of the study and the Antonio S. Turco Endowed Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.

The antibiotic, aminoglycoside, when added to neuronal cells it starts producing the progranulin protein by completely skipping the mutation. The specific aminoglycoside antibiotics used in the study were Gentamicin and G418.

"If we can get the right resources and physician to work with, we could potentially repurpose this drug. This is an early stage of the study, but it provides an important proof of concept that these aminoglycoside antibiotics or their derivatives can be a therapeutic avenue for frontotemporal dementia," said Haining Zhu, a professor in UK's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.

These findings could provide the basis of future drug development since there are currently no effective therapies for any type of dementia.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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