Psoriasis drug may slow dementia26th November 2012
Researchers in Germany and Switzerland say that anti-inflammatory drugs used in the treatment of psoriasis may also be useful in treating Alzheimer's disease.
A recent study on mice has found that an equivalent of the drug given to the animals improved their short-term memory.
Writing in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers found there was a reduction of proteins in the brains of the mice that are implicated in destroying brain cells.
Experts say brain inflammation could be a key factor in the development of Alzheimer's.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are given to patients with psoriasis, because their immune system attacks healthy skin cells and stimulates the production of new skin.
The inflammatory response of the body's immune system is believed to be implicated in both conditions.
However, scientists have yet to pinpoint exactly how brain tissues are gradually destroyed as Alzheimer's progresses.
Simon Ridley of the charity Alzheimer's Research UK said this was an exciting area for researchers working to defeat "this devastating disease".
The researchers, from the University of Zurich ad the Charite University Hospital in Germany injected an antibody that targets two components of the immune system known to boost inflammation in mice.
The mice had been genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer's.
The mice received injections twice a week after the age of one month. Researchers found a 31% reduction in beta-amyloid plaques, which are believed to cause the brain damage seen in Alzheimer's patients.
Even older mice that were already symptomatic showed a significant reduction in their short-term memory loss after the injections.
Psoriasis patients are already prescribed the equivalent drug for humans, which targets the same components.
The researchers called for clinical trials of psoriasis drugs in Alzheimer's patients as soon as possible, given the drugs had already been shown to be safe for use in humans.
Ridley said the research was promising, because it further supported the view that the immune system plays a role in Alzheimer's.
However, he said people should not assume what worked in mice would automatically work in people.
Rigorous testing would be needed before the drug could be given to Alzheimer's patients, he said.
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Title: Psoriasis drug may slow dementia
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 23229
Date Added: 26th Nov 2012