Ongoing Clinical Trial for Anti-Cancer Drug Found to Restore Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Disease Rodent Model

Ongoing Clinical Trial for Anti-Cancer Drug Found to Restore Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Disease Rodent Model
Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven recently published in the journal Annals of Neurology the finding that a specific experimental anti-cancer drug can be used as an effective therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. The study is entitled “Fyn inhibition rescues established memory and synapse loss in Alzheimer mice” and was funded by the National Institutes of Health as part of an initiative to repurpose experimental drugs. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and corresponds to a neurodegenerative disorder where individuals initially experience memory loss and confusion that gradually leads to behavior and personality changes, a decline in cognitive abilities, and ultimately the severe loss of mental function. The disease is characterized by the brain formation of amyloid plaques (containing beta-amyloid proteins), and the loss of neurons that are responsible for memory and learning. Alzheimer’s is estimated to be the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States with 5.3 million Americans suffering from the disease. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and the current available therapies ease the symptoms but do not block disease progression. Researchers have now discovered that the drug saracatinib (AZD0530, AstraZeneca), originally developed as an anti-cancer drug, has a therapeutic effect in Alzheimer’s mouse models. Saracatinib targets a protein named Fyn kinase, which was previously shown to have an important role in the brain cell damage induced by amyloid plaques. The team found that saracatinib treatment for four weeks restored memory loss and completely reversed spatial cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s mouse models. The drug was well tolerated by the animals. “The investigational drug a
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