Published on: January 18, 2013
by Tim Watt for Sunrise Senior Living:
Because Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases are both neurodegenerative, findings about one are often able to be translated to the other. Such is the case with Parkinson’s findings from UCLA researchers last March. Now, they are using the same findings and looking at Alzheimer’s disease.
The Parkinson’s study reported the development of a molecular compound called CLR01 that prevented Parkinson’s proteins from accumulating together and killing the brain’s neurons, which is the known pathology of the disease. Now, the researchers found promising results using the same compound to prevent the clumping of amyloid-beta and tau proteins that occurs in Alzhemier’s patients.
Researchers have labeled the compound a “molecular tweezer” because it clears existing toxic amyloid-beta and tau clumps while protecting the neurons’ synapses. This is the function of the brain that allows cells to communicate, which is also a target of Alzheimer’s disease. Senior author Gal Bitan, associate professor of neurology at UCLA, said this is the first study showing that the compound works in a mammal model. He added that no signs of toxcity were shown in the mice treated with the “tweezers,” and these effective results “suggest there are promising compounds for developing disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other disorders.”
Still, researchers admit the process may be more complicated for humans. Bitan said because of the differences, particularly the fact that human neurons gradually die in the course of Alzheimer’s disease, early intervention is critical.
“The good news is that the molecular tweezers appear to have a high safety margin, so they may be suitable for prophylactic treatment starting long before the onset of the disease,” he explained.
This only adds to the evidence that early intervention is helpful in Alzheimer’s care. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, early diagnosis allows individuals to plan for the future and access available drug and non-drug treatments and therapies to enhance their quality of life.
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