Washington | An experimental drug aimed at combating Alzheimer’s disease has the effect of slowing down ageing in animals, a new study has found. Researchers from the Salk Institute in US expanded upon their previous development of a drug candidate, called J147, which takes a different tack by targeting Alzheimer’s major risk factor old age.
In the study, the team showed that the drug candidate worked well in a mouse model of ageing not typically used in Alzheimer’s research. When these mice were treated with J147, they had better memory and cognition, healthier blood vessels in the brain and other improved physiological features. Initially, the impetus was to test this drug in a novel animal model that was more similar to 99 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases, said lead author Antonio Currais, from the Salk Institute.
We did not predict we’d see this sort of anti-ageing effect, but J147 made old mice look like they were young, based upon a number of physiological parameters, Currais said. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder. It is also the most common cause of dementia in older adults, according to the US National Institutes of Health. While most drugs developed in the past 20 years target the amyloid plaque deposits in the brain which are a hallmark of the disease, none have proven effective in the clinic, said senior author David Schubert, professor at Salk Institute.
Rather than target amyloid, the researchers decided to zero in on the major risk factor for the disease – old age. Using cell-based screens against old age-associated brain toxicities, they synthesised J147. Previously, the team found that J147 could prevent and even reverse memory loss and Alzheimer’s pathology in mice that have a version of the inherited form of Alzheimer’s, the most commonly used mouse model.
However, this form of the disease comprises only about 1 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases. For everyone else, old age is the primary risk factor, said Schubert. The researchers used a comprehensive set of assays to measure the expression of all genes in the brain, as well as over 500 small molecules involved with metabolism in the brains and blood of three groups of the rapidly ageing mice.
The three groups of rapidly ageing mice included one set that was young, one set that was old and one set that was old but fed J147 as they aged. The old mice that received J147 performed better on memory and other tests for cognition and also displayed more robust motor movements. The mice treated with J147 also had fewer pathological signs of Alzheimer’s in their brains.
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