The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is reporting through their news alert service that a potential new type of compound called an "ionophore" has been shown to "reverse Alzheimer's within days." The work was done by a long list of scientists, mainly from Australia, who were studying Alzheimers in mice.
Reading the details on this one, it seemed to be an example of an overenthusiastic person writing up a press release. I don't know why it is, but for some reason the field of Alzheimers research seems to be wide open for incredible claims. When I read words like "reverse Alzheimer's within days," I wince, as we've had other "remarkable developments" that have done nothing other than to hurt caregivers and the families of those who have this terrible ailment. Search for Alzheimers on this forum and you'll see what I mean, with the case of a physician in California and his claims.
Scientists report a remarkable improvement in Alzheimer's transgenic mice following treatment with this new drug. The study, published by Cell Press in the July 10th issue of the journal Neuron, provides the first demonstration that an ionophore, a compound that transports metal ions across cell membranes, can elicit rapid and pronounced improvement in neuropathology and cognitive function in mouse models of Alzheimer's Disease.
Recent research has implicated dysregulation of metal ions in the brain, particularly copper and zinc, in the pathogenesis of the disease, and in the damaging accumulation of amyloid beta protein that is characteristic of this devastating disease. This type of compound, an ionophore clioquinol, has been shown to increase intracellular copper and zinc levels and decrease amyloid beta protein levels in cultured cells and in the brains of mice. However, earlier studies in mice and humans demonstrated that brain entry of this compound was quite limited.
When Dr. Ashley I. Bush from the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria in Australia and his colleagues examined the therapeutic potential of a second generation compound designed for easier synthesis (which they are calling PBT2), they found a higher solubility and increased blood-brain barrier permeability in the mouse models. In other words, they believe they are on the right track for getting this compound into the brain.
PBT2 was shown to be a superior ionophore when compared to the earlier version, and the researchers went on to test amyloid beta protein levels and cognitive outcomes after oral treatment with this compund. They found that oral treatment with PBT2 induced a dramatic improvement in learning and memory in both mice models of Alzheimers, accompanied by a marked inhibition of Alzheimers-like symptoms.
"These outcomes were rapid, with reduction of soluble amyloid beta protein occurring within hours, and significant cognitive benefits seen within days of first administration of the compound," says Dr. Bush.
The report indicates that humans are now getting this compound; "recent clinical trials in AD patients taking oral PBT2 have been promising and support PBT2 as a viable treatment for Alzheimers" report the authors.
Any reader of this column who learns more about this and/or who has investigated the compound, please update us with a comment attached to this blog.