Years from now, medical experts may look back at a new study just completed and proclaim it a major milestone in battling Alzheimer's disease. The researchers conducting the study have discovered a way to stop brain cells in mice from dying, reported Fox News on October 10.
The British scientists who achieved the breakthrough said it also could provide insights into the treatment of other neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's. To halt brain cell death in the laboratory mice, the scientists developed a drug-like compound. They then injected that compound into the animals' stomachs through a mouth tube.
"We were extremely excited when we saw the treatment stop the disease in its tracks and protect brain cells, restoring some normal behaviors and preventing memory loss in the mice," exalted lead scientist Giovanna Mallucci.
The research involved first inducing a neurodegenerative disease caused by abnormal prion proteins. This disease provided the scientists with the closest model of human disorders that can be found in animals. They then treated one group of mice with the compound.
The mice who received the compound remained free of symptoms that characterize Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's, such as memory loss, impaired reflexes and limb dragging. In addition, those lucky little creatures lived longer.
Side effects of the compound included weight loss and an increase in blood sugar. Researchers noted that no human trials have been performed. Based on their results, they project it could be at least 10 years before a safe and effective drug for treating human neurodegenerative diseases is compounded.
But the study does offer hope that in the future, researchers can develop an oral medication to protect the brain from neurological diseases.