Researchers have designed an experimental drug that reversed key symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. The drug works by reinvigorating a cellular cleaning mechanism that gets rid of unwanted proteins by digesting and recycling them.
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have designed an experimental drug that reversed key symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. The drug works by reinvigorating a cellular cleaning mechanism that gets rid of unwanted proteins by digesting and recycling them. The study was published online today in the journal Cell.
“Discoveries in mice don’t always translate to humans, especially in Alzheimer’s disease,” said co-study leader Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., the Robert and Renée Belfer Chair for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases, professor of developmental and molecular biology, and co-director of the Institute for Aging Research at Einstein. “But we were encouraged to find in our study that the drop-off in cellular cleaning that contributes to Alzheimer’s in mice also occurs in people with the disease, suggesting that our drug may also work in humans.” In the 1990s, Dr. Cuervo discovered the existence of this cell-cleaning process, known as chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) and has published 200 papers on its role in health and disease.
CMA becomes less efficient as people age, increasing the risk that unwanted proteins will accumulate into insoluble clumps that damage cells. In fact, Alzheimer’s and all other neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the presence of toxic protein aggregates in patients’ brains. The Cell paper reveals a dynamic interplay between CMA and Alzheimer’s disease, with loss of CMA in neurons contributing to Alzheimer’s and vice versa. The findings suggest that drugs for revving up CMA may offer hope for treating neurodegenerative diseases.
While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently ranks Alzheimer’s Number Six among the leading causes of death in the U.S. Investigators now say the illness more accurately sits atop the list alongside killers Ranked One and Number Two: heart disease and cancer, reports HealthDay, a service of the U .S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
An analysis of two aging studies published in the journal Neurology tallied fatalities among nearly 2,600 seniors 65 and older from the mid-1990s up until 2013.
All were initially dementia-free although annual clinical testing revealed that almost 22 percent ultimately developed Alzheimer’s a diagnosis that appeared to triple or even quadruple the rate of death.
Upon death, approximately 90 percent were autopsied and because all were organ donors, the cause of mortality was clearly noted in each case. Number crunching on a national scale revealed that among all Americans 75 and up, Alzheimer’s likely accounted for more than 500,000 deaths in 2010 five to six times higher than figures previously reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2013, Alzheimer’s care cost $203 billion in the U.S. Costs are expected to climb past $1 trillion by 2050.