Major drug breakthrough  achieved for Alzheimer’s

Washington : Treatment for Alzheimer’s has taken a major step forward, as new drug compound has been found that turns the cognitive discrepancies of the disease.

Researchers from Yale School of Medicine have identified the compound TC-2153, which inhibits the negative effects of a protein called STriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP), which is key to regulating learning and memory.

The protein, STriatal-Enriched protein tyrosine Phosphatase, or STEP, is present in the brain. Those with Alzheimer’s disease have elevated levels of STEP in their brains.

Lead author Paul Lombroso and the co-authors studied thousands of small molecules in mice, searching for those that would inhibit STEP activity and found a reversal of deficits in several cognitive exercises that gauged the animals’ ability to remember previously seen objects.

Lombroso said that the small molecule inhibitor was the result of a five-year collaborative effort to search for STEP inhibitors. A single dose of the drug resulted in improved cognitive function in mice. Animals treated with TC compound were indistinguishable from a control group in several cognitive tasks.

Yale researchers are duplicating the research to see if they get the same results with rats and non-human primates. The hope is that they will one day come up with a drug that could be used to help treat people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to vnews.com.

“This novel STEP inhibitor has given a real impetus now for pharma industries to look for additional STEP inhibitors,” Lombroso said.

But there is still a long way to go before a compound like this is tested in humans. Since the preliminary finding is encouraging, the researchers are optimistic about it being a reality soon. And since very few experiments have actually been able to reverse the disease, which currently affects about five million Americans and is expected to grow dramatically in coming years, reports time.com.

The team is currently testing the TC compound in other animals with cognitive defects, including rats and non-human primates. “These studies will determine whether the compound can improve cognitive deficits in other animal models,” said Lombroso. “Successful results will bring us a step closer to testing a drug that improves cognition in humans, reports northdallasgazette.com.

The findings are publishing in the journal PLOS Biology.

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