Researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California have tested an experimental drug on rapidly-aging mice, with the treatment designed to combat aspects of aging closely associated with Alzheimer's. The results were very positive, with treated mice exhibiting better memory, cognition and more.
Alzheimer's is a widespread and progressive disease that chiefly affects the elderly. There are currently more than five million people with the condition in the United States alone.
The Salk research is looking to tackle the disease from a new angle. It expands upon a previous study conducted back in 2013, working with a potent memory-enhancing and neurotrophic drug called J147. Unlike most medicines designed to combat the disease, J147 was synthesized after looking at age-associated brain toxicities, and looks to tackle the major risk factor for the disease – old age itself.
The older research looked at the effect of J147 on mice with an inherited form of Alzheimer's, finding that it was able to prevent and even reverse memory loss in subjects. While that was promising, inherited Alzheimer's is far less common than cases of the disease triggered by old age.
The new study looked to discover whether the experimental drug is as effective at fighting Alzheimer's caused by old age, which is responsible for 99 percent of cases. Once the results were in, things were looking very positive, with the researchers surprised by how effective it had proved.
"We did not predict we'd see this sort of anti-aging effect," says lead author Antonio Currais. "But J147 made old mice look like they were young, based upon a number of physiological parameters."