German scientists are all thumbs - and that's a good thing.
In their quest to discover a cure for Alzheimer's, researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics have designed a tricky new drug. Their drug "hitch-hikes" into the brain's cells to target specific sub-compartments where Alzheimer's activity begins. By attaching to the exact location where Alzheimer's plaques originate, the treatment is able to effectively fight, and even reverse, their formation.
"By directing inhibition to the sub-compartment where the enzyme is active, the approach has potential to be used in the design of more effective ß-secretase inhibitors for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," noted researcher Kai Simons.
The studies have so far only been conducted on mice, but the results are quite promising. Within 4 hours of receiving an injection of the drug, the mice showed a reduction of 50% of the Alzheimer's plaque. That's impressive and, if the treatment holds true with humans, would be a major breakthrough.
The next issue for researchers is to figure out how to get the drug across the blood-brain barrier. The initial testing was done by directly injecting the drug into the brains of mice. The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from chemicals and is often a challenge in the development of new medications.
The testing will quickly move to the next stage, but availability to treat humans is still 5 to 10 years away.
Alzheimer's currently affects roughly 18 million people worldwide, and the World Health Organization estimates that will increase to around 34 million by 2025.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about ongoing Alzheimer's research, see this from the Alzheimer Research Forum.