A new drug tested on mutant as well as wild mice has shown promise in reversing Alzheimer’s Disease by reducing inflammation in parts of the brain that control memory and learning ability. According to lead researcher Susan Farr of Saint Louis University School of Medicine, the rodents were “medically engineered to produce a mutant form of human beta amyloid (a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease). While the feral were and half the mutants were given random compounds, the remaining mutant mice were treated with the experimental drug antisense oligonucleotide (OL-1). They were then placed in mazes and tested to see how well they figured out the paths and recognized new objects while exploring them.
“It reversed learning and memory deficits and brain inflammation in mice that are genetically engineered to model Alzheimer’s disease. In the end, “the genetically engineered mice that received OL-1 did about as well as the wild mice,” she reported. “As a result, our current findings suggest that the compound is a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in humans as well.” Details of Farr’s study can be found in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Although Alzheimer's disease develops differently for every individual, early symptoms generally include short –term memory loss and difficulty in recalling recent events. As the disease progresses, patients may experience more confusion, irritability, language difficulties, and mood swings including more aggression, as well as long-term memory loss. Patients also tend to withdraw from family and friends. In addition, there is a gradual loss of bodily functions until the person eventually dies. Life expectancy for those with Alzheimer’s Disease is generally 7-years from the time it is diagnosed, with “less that 3% of patients living as long as 14-years after onset. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans over the age of 65 now suffer with some form of Alzheimer’s Disease, with that number expected to more than triple by 2050 unless a cure can be found.