Of Mice and Men: A Promising Alzheimer’s Drug

Of Mice and Men: A  Promising Alzheimer’s  Drug
A happy accident has occurred in Alzheimer’s research: A skin cancer drug has successfully removed plaques in the brains of mice which were bio-engineered to manifest Alzheimer’s disease. After giving the mice in this trial the drug called, bexarotene, which is marketed under the name Targretin, the mice improved dramatically. They were able to remember what they were taught; their sense of smell was improved and they behaved more sociably.

Bexarotene has been used for patients suffering from cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, which is a rare cancer of the skin and liver. The team at Case Western Reserve University chose this drug for Alzheimer’s testing because of how it works with proteins in the nucleus of brain cells. In this experiment, the drug stimulated the removal of beta-amyloid, a brain substance that can lead to Alzheimer’s.

Reports are that when the research was publicized on TV, the web and in newspapers people have begun clamoring for this new drug to treat Alzheimer’s. Although the drug holds hope, it is an enormous leap from the mouse brain to the human brain. What should the dosage be? The good news is since the drug is already FDA approved for skin cancer treatment, in a couple of months the drug will be used in human clinical trials. Dr. Landreth, the lead study author, needs to figure out the right dose and how long the course of treatment should be for Alzheimer's patients. Then the effects will be evaluated and the dosages calibrated over several months. If all goes well, according to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Landreth hopes to engineer a version of the medicine that is more potent and works at a lower dose, to minimize any side effects.

Meanwhile, let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. According to a neuroscientist and Alzheimer’s researcher, Dr. Nicolas Bazan from Louisiana, we can hope to postpone and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s with diet, exercise and stress management. He makes us aware that the American diet has worsened over the decades with processed fatty, sugary/salty foods along with the trend that people drive or are driven - sitting for long hours at a time. He advises that we:
  • Eat a balanced diet of fresh foods, emphasizing fatty fish like salmon to be ingested at least three times a week. Cut out the processed, junk foods and enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Follow a fitness program is vital to pump oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
  • Manage stressors to reduce the inflammatory response in the body.

For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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