Cancer treatments identified with potential effectiveness in Alzheimer’s disease

Research combining the analysis of brain protein alterations in these patients.

Javier Erazo

November 11, 2021 | | Reading time: 4 min

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative neurological condition of unknown cause, apparently multifactorial that mainly affects memory and then deteriorates different functions of the brain such as judgment and language, according to the Alzheimer’s Association of the United States.

According to statistics, around 44 million people suffer from some type of dementia in the world. This figure could be double in 2030 and triple in 2050.

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The figures in Puerto Rico are equally alarming. It has been estimated that 34,458 people suffer from Alzheimer’s, according to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Development of the Department of Health, with Bayamón, San Juan and Ponce being the municipalities with the most cases. These figures, however, were calculated from numbers provided by health plan insurers. Other calculations indicate that the number of patients with the condition reaches 46,000, although at the moment there is no official figure.

The main call to health professionals and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients is to register them in the Center and Registry of Cases of Alzheimer’s Disease, attached to the Department of Health, in order to obtain an official figure of the number of cases , since this could facilitate the development of public policies, as well as the improvement of services for patients with this condition.

Treatment with potential

On the other hand, it should be noted that drugs against existing and emerging cancer could be reused as therapies to be tested in trials clinics for people at risk Alzheimer’s disease genetics, according to a new study published in Science Advances.

The research that combines the analysis of the brain protein abnormalities in these individuals, as well as the laboratory experiments on models animals and cell cultures could help scientists identify existing drugs to test their potential as Alzheimer’s interventions more quickly.

The findings represent the efforts of researchers at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and NIA-supported teams at the University of California, San Francisco; Rush University, Chicago; and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City.

The scientists identified changes in brain proteins related to the APOE4 genetic risk variant in young participants of the post-mortem study (the average age at death was 39 years) and compared these changes with those of the autopsid brains of people with and without Alzheimer’s.

The researchers tested whether existing Food and Drug Administration-approved or experimental drugs for other diseases act on some of these proteins. Their findings show that an experimental liver cancer drug and Dasatinib, approved for chronic myeloid leukemia, act on some of these Alzheimer’s disease-related proteins, suggesting that they could be potential therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

The drugs also reduced neuroinflammation, amyloid secretion, and tau phosphorylation in cell culture experiments, underscoring their potential as candidates for testing in Alzheimer’s clinical trials.

These findings add to evidence from another recent study showing the value of this kind of data-driven approach to drug reuse research. Next steps could include testing these drugs in clinical trials. For those that have already been approved by the FDA or whose safety has already been proven in other trials, the timeframe for testing could be shortened.

Source consulted here.

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