APR 01, 2015 3:44 PM PDT

Experimental Cancer Drug Restores Memory in Mouse Model of Alzheimer's

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Memory and as well as connections between brain cells were restored in mice with a model of Alzheimer's given an experimental cancer drug, Yale School of Medicine researchers reported in the journal Annals of Neurology.
Star-like glial cells in red surround alpha beta plaques in the cortex of a mouse with a model of Alzheimer's Disease.
The drug, AZD05030, developed by Astra Zeneca proved disappointing in treating solid tumors but appears to block damage triggered during the formation of amyloid-beta plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The new study, funded by an innovative National Institutes of Health (NIH) program to test failed drugs on different diseases, has led to the launch of human trials to test the efficacy of AZD05030 in Alzheimer's patients.

"With this treatment, cells under bombardment by beta amyloid plaques show restored synaptic connections and reduced inflammation, and the animal's memory, which was lost during the course of the disease, comes back," said Stephen M. Strittmatter, the Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study.

In the last five years, scientists have developed a more complete understanding of the complex chain of events that leads to Alzheimer's disease. The new drug blocks one of those molecular steps, activation of the enzyme FYN, which leads to the loss of synaptic connections between brain cells. Several other steps in the disease process have the potential to be targets for new drugs, Strittmatter said.

"The speed with which this compound moved to human trials validates our New Therapeutic Uses program model and serves our mission to deliver more treatments to more patients more quickly," said Dr. Christopher P. Austin, director of NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), which funded the work.

Yale's Christopher H. van Dyck, a co-author of the paper, and Strittmatter have initiated a multi-site clinical trial to determine whether the drug can also benefit Alzheimer's patients.

Source: Yale University
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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