Posts Tagged ‘memory loss’

A Promising Alzheimer’s Treatment

Monday, March 19th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

When mice with an Alzheimer’s-like condition were given bexarotene, a cancer drug, the undesirable plaque-forming protein in their brains began clearing within hours and their Alzheimer’s-like behavior was largely reversed within days. Laura Sanders, writing for ScienceNews (March 10, 2012), described the study, which was undertaken at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio:

The brains of persons with Alzheimer’s disease contain high levels of the plaque-forming protein amyloid-beta (A-beta). Like people, mice with a lot of A-beta in their brains experience memory loss and difficulty learning new things. For example, when normal laboratory mice are placed in cages with a supply of soft tissue paper, they usually chew it up and arrange it into a pile, thereby making a soft, comfortable nest for themselves. But mice with high A-beta levels lose their ability to make a mental connection between seeing the paper and the opportunity to form a soft place to lie. However, after three days of bexarotene treatment, these mice began building nests again.

Also like people with Alzheimer’s disease, mice with high A-beta levels often lose their sense of smell. When normal mice smell a strong odor again and again, they grow used to it and don’t act surprised the third, fourth or fifth time they’re exposed to it. But high A-beta mice don’t become accustomed to the scent and continue to act surprised every time they encounter it. Given bexarotene, these mice recovered their ability to get used to a smell.

Researchers reported that after 14 days of treatment, plaque levels in the laboratory mice decreased by 75 percent. However, they cautioned that making the leap from research animals to human beings is the most difficult step in the drug development process. In any event, this study added to scientists’ understanding of amyloid-beta, so progress has been achieved.