There have been many “promising developments” in Alzheimer’s disease research over the last decade but unfortunately, none of them have proven to be a cure for this incurable disease.
But researchers at MIT have continued their work and now say they have found a way to reverse neurodegeneration and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by interfering with an enzyme that is typically overactive in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
So far, research has only been conducted on laboratory mice. The mice were given a peptide that blocks the hyperactive version of an enzyme called CDK5. The scientists say the result was dramatic reductions in neurodegeneration and DNA damage in the brain. These mice also showed improvements in their ability to perform tasks such as learning to navigate a water maze.
“We found that the effect of this peptide is just remarkable,” said Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the senior author of the study. “We saw wonderful effects in terms of reducing neurodegeneration and neuroinflammatory responses, and even rescuing behavior deficits.”
But will it work on humans?
The researchers say the next step is to determine if the peptide could be safely used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s patients and if the treatment actually works on humans. The researchers believe the peptide could be more effective in humans than previous drugs that have caused serious side effects.
What’s next is a study to test the peptide’s effects on diabetes-linked cognitive impairment, as well as other neurodegenerative illnesses. Should the treatment prove to be effective, health experts say it would be a monumental development.
An estimated 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the latest data from the Alzheimer’s Association. The disease has no cure and is terminal.
Aging is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association reports the disease affects 5% of people between the ages of 65 and 74. The percentage rises to 13.1% for people between the ages of 75 and 84.