It may be possible to improve the lot of Alzheimer’s patients by giving them a drug that attacks the fatty plaques that form in their brains early in the development of the disease, work by Quebec researchers suggests.
Postdoctoral researcher Laura Hamilton, of the CHUM Research Center, and her colleague Karl Fernandes, associate researcher at CRCHUM and professor of research at the University of Sherbrooke, reported in 2015 that fatty deposits (not to be confused with plaques of proteins better known in the context of Alzheimer’s disease) clogged the brains of patients. These fat deposits were first seen in the brains of mice, after which their presence was confirmed in the human brain during a postmortem examination. Their new work, published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, is “the second chapter,” Mr. Fernandes said, as they are interested in how we can attack the enzyme responsible for the formation of these lipid deposits. More specifically, the new paper focuses specifically on the hippocampus, a brain structure essential for memory and learning.
“What we’ve seen is that if we put this drug in the (mouse) brain that inhibits the enzyme that makes this fatty acid that we think is toxic, we can accelerate many of the genes involved in Alzheimer’s disease.” like in wild mice, so (…) at a more normal pace,” Ms Hamilton summed up. In addition, the affected genes play a key role in several facets of Alzheimer’s disease, she added. These fat deposits already seem to be very early in the disease course, long before many of the other changes that will eventually cause the usual symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but after the build-up of amyloid proteins early in the disease. changing the composition of fatty acids and correcting the memory,” Fernandes said. It’s a bit like the missing link between the trigger, the amyloid, and all the things you see after that.”
The drug (SCDi) also had the effect of fighting inflammation in the brain and restoring connections between cells, Hamilton said. The mice that received it regained the same memory abilities as a mouse that had never been sick, after only a month of treatment, and even if they already showed marked memory loss. Ms Hamilton and Mr Fernandes can almost claim to have been the ones who put the scientific community on the trail of these fat deposits in the brain in the context of Alzheimer’s disease as early as 2015. But if we go back to the scientific literature, Mr. Fernandes, then we see that Dr. Alois Alzheimer also described these lipid aggregates a hundred years ago. “But after a few years, people didn’t think it was important, so it was forgotten in the literature,” he said.
Anyway, since 2015, several other researchers have been interested in the role SCDi could play in fighting other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Last year, a clinical trial was even started with the treatment of Parkinson’s. For the time being, the two researchers from Quebec are said to be the only ones who will investigate in depth the role of these fatty deposits in Alzheimer’s disease. Their work could eventually lead to the development of new tests for the disease and, they hope, new treatments, especially since the necessary inhibitors are already available on the market after they have been developed for other health problems. , which will form “the third chapter”. said Mr Fernandes.
“We were able to regulate memory with a drug after just a month, Ms Hamilton emphasized. If we treat longer, earlier or later, we may be able to have even more extraordinary effects. We don’t know, but it bodes well for us. †
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