In a new study, published in EMBO Molecular Medicine, researchers uncovered a new experimental drug that may work to reduce the effects of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, conducted in numerous international research areas including the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the University of California San Diego, examined a new drug called anle138b, which theoretically works by inhibiting the activity of two proteins: amyloid-beta and tau — both instrumental in Alzheimer’s disease.
In memory loss, a progressive stage of mental disintegration commonly observed in neurodegenerative illnesses, ions leak through cell membranes, allowing them to travel freely, thus triggering neuronal dysfunction, cell death, and subsequent cognitive deterioration.
“To initially test the potential of anle138b as therapeutic strategies to treat amyloid aggregation in Alzheimer’s disease, we analyzed its effect in a Drosophila model for amyloid‐induced neurotoxicity. We observed that treatment with anle138b improved survival times when compared to a vehicle‐treated group.”
According to researchers, in experimental tests initiated on mice, anle38b can prevent ions from leaking and regulate neurodegenerative-like symptoms. The findings suggested that the experimental drug, when administered orally, improved learning in mice and normalized brain activity.
“This is the first drug molecule that can regulate memory loss by directly blocking ions from leaking through nerve cell membranes,” said Ratnesh Lal, one of the authors of the study.
Despite the results, however, researchers warn that the drug has yet to be tested for its efficacy on humans.
“I would like to emphasize that none of the current animal models fully recapitulate the symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Thus, care has to be taken when interpreting such data. However, our study offers evidence that anle138b has potential for neuroprotection,” researchers concluded.
The experimental drug, if found to be useful for humans as well, would also treat — aside from Alzheimer’s — Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), among other neurodegenerative diseases.