Cancer Drug Shows Promise for Alzheimer's


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A cancer drug has shown promise in being effective in improving memory when administered to older mice with Alzheimer's disease, according to scientists at the University of Pennsylvania.

The drug in question - epothilone, or EpoD, has also shown to stop cognitive decline in younger mice who were engineered to display Alzheimer's-like symptoms later in life. But the new study also extended cognitive benefits to older mice, which offers another step in the future possibility of treating the disease in humans.

EpoD seems to work by preventing what are known as "tangles" in the nerve cells of the brain, caused by a destabilization of nutrient-transporting structures called microtubules. "EpoD functions like a well-known chemotherapy drug, paclitaxel, but is different in that it crosses the blood-brain barrier," said lead scientist Kurt Brunden. "EpoD readily enters the brain, where it appears to persist for a much longer time than in the blood. This may explain why low doses were both effective and safe in the mouse model of Alzheimer's disease," Brunden adds.

The mice in the study were treated for 3 months, and humans would have to take the drug for much longer, and more esearch needs to be done on the side-effects of long-term use. And experts also point out that success in mice models does not always translate to humans.

In related news, a Facebook app to promote Alzheimer's awareness was released in February, which erases the pictures of the user's friends, to simulate dementia.