Cancer drug removes plaque from mouse models
Thursday 02 February 2012
Researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio (USA) have found that a cancer drug called bexarotene helps the body increase its production of apolipoprotein E (ApoE), which acts to remove amyloid beta plaque from the brain.
The drug was given to three different mouse models showing early signs of Alzheimer's disease. After one dose in young mice, the level of amyloid beta in the brain was "rapidly lowered" within six hours and a 25% reduction was sustained for 70 hours. In older mice with established amyloid plaques, seven days of treatment halved the number of plaques. The study showed that brain function improved after treatment, including nest building, maze performance and memory of electrical shocks.
Paige Cramer, the study’s lead author and a doctoral candidate at the university, said: "As a consequence of aging, the ability to clear plaque from the brain goes down, and we are able to enhance ApoE. The benefit of this drug is we are just facilitating or enhancing Mother Nature." The university is now planning a human trial.