Cancer-Fighting Drug May Have New Role in Treating Alzheimer’s
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) June 5, 2013 – A new study indicates that a cancer drug may be used to treat Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center administered the drug nilotinib to mice in very low doses. They theorized that the drug, which causes cancer cells to self-destruct, might have a similar effect on aberrant brain cells at low doses.
“Alzheimer’s and similar diseases affect some 5 million people in America alone, and planning for their needs is a challenge for families and communities” said elder law attorney Andrew Hook.
The researchers began by finding a drug that crosses the blood-brain barrier so that it could act upon malfunctioning neurons. Nilotinib fit that bill. The team administered a very low dose of the drug every other day to mice that exhibited a buildup in the brain of a protein called alpha-Synuclein. The protein forms a plaque in the brain and is correlated with many neurodegenerative diseases.
The study showed that the drug caused neurons to clear toxic proteins from within themselves, much like it causes cancerous cells to devour their insides at higher doses. Researchers likened the mechanism to a garbage disposal and said it led to improvements in motor skills and overall functionality in the mice while extending their lives.
The Georgetown team is hopeful that the drug could be used to treat Lewy body dementia, a condition marked by the simultaneous development of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. There is currently no treatment for the disorder. Given that the drugs are already FDA approved for fighting cancer, researchers are hopeful that they can begin phase two clinical trials soon. The possible treatment of Lewy body dementia will be a top priority in those trials.
Over 150 companies are working on drugs to treat Alzheimer’s. They have recently suffered a string of serious setbacks when clinical trials indicated a lack of efficacy of drugs in development.
“Given the slow progress in researching pharmaceutical treatments for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the special needs community can use a little encouragement,” added Hook.
The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virginia Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with wills, trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more.
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