In this week’s issue of Nature (Vol. 414, No. 6860, 08 Nov 2001), Edward Koo at the University of California San Diego and colleagues identify three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen, that reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. The drugs specifically inhibit the most harmful plaque-forming protein produced in the animals’ brains.
Some Alzheimer’s patients taking NSAIDs have shown reduced symptoms of the disease in the past. But how these common, over-the-counter drugs might work is a mystery. Previous experiments with NSAIDs and Alzheimer’s gave mixed results: some, such as aspirin, have no effect; others, such as ibuprofen, work but only at very high, almost toxic doses.
Importantly, Koo’s team find that the inhibition of the harmful plaque doesn’t seem to be dependent on the anti-inflammatory properties of the drugs. So it should be possible to produce new medicines for controlling the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, without the toxic effects associated with anti-inflammatory drugs at high doses.
"If the findings can be extended to people, these drugs could join the Ivy League of potential treatments for this devastating neurodegenerative disorder," says Bart De Strooper, a molecular biologist at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in an accompanying News and Views article.
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(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza