Friday, March 4, 2011
SAN DIEGO New findings on Alzheimer's disease could lead to ways to prevent and treat the condition, The Scripps Research Institute announced Friday.
Scientists found that a substance that leads to brain plaque, which is associated with Alzheimer's, might have its source in the liver, not the brain, and can thus be treated outside the brain.
"This unexpected finding holds promise for the development of new therapies to fight Alzheimer's,'' said Greg Sutcliffe, a TSRI professor who led the study. "This could greatly simplify the challenge of developing therapies and prevention.''
An estimated 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, including nearly half of people age 85 and older, according to TSRI.
By 2050, the number of people age 65 and over with this disease will range from 11 million to 16 million unless science finds a way to prevent or effectively treat it.
A recent report from the Alzheimer's Association said that unless a treatment is discovered, the costs of care for people with Alzheimer's from 2010 to 2050 will exceed $20 trillion combined.
Sutcliffe's research team found that lower levels of three genes in the livers of mice correlated to less amyloid, a translucent fibrous substance that results in plaque, in the brain.
Mice were injected with Gleevec, a new drug used for treating leukemia and gastrointestinal tumors, that reduces the production of beta amyloid.
Testing found lowered levels of beta amyloid both in the blood and the brains of the test mice.
Sutcliffe said he is looking for partners to begin clinical trials for new Alzheimer's treatments.
The study was published online in The Journal of Neuroscience Research.