Scientists Reveal Potential Alzheimer’s Treatment

The discovery could point the way to a new type of neuroprotective drug for people with Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.¬† The research findings appear in the July 9th issue of the journal Cell.

Scientists were inspired by evidence that the mammalian brain continues to add new neurons into adulthood. The question was whether there might be a way to encourage the growth of those cells in ways that could be beneficial.

The researchers’ initial drug screen in mice turned up eight contenders that appeared to support the formation of neurons specifically in a brain region (called the dentate gyrus) known to sprout new neurons in adulthood. Of those eight chemical candidates, they focused their attention on one called P7C3, based on its other favorable drug properties.

To find out just how well P7C3 might work, the researchers put it to the test in mice carrying a mutation that renders them almost completely incapable of producing new neurons in the critical dentate gyrus region.

According to their findings, not only did new neurons form, but electrophysiological recordings also showed that processing in the dentate gyrus had been restored.  Prolonged treatment of aged rats with P7C3 also enhanced the birth of new neurons. 

The key to the treatment’s success is the protection of newborn neurons, the researchers report. In fact, they explained, the normal process by which newborn neurons are incorporated into the brain as mature cells is a long and perilous one.

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