Asthma drug could help fight Alzheimer’s

March 27th, 2011 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 27 (IANS) An asthma drug has shown promise in inhibiting the formation of a brain peptide (compound) known as amyloid beta, known to cause Alzheimer’s disease.

In previous studies, Temple University researchers discovered that 5-lipoxygenase, a brain enzyme, controls the activation of gamma secretase, another enzyme responsible for the production of amyloid beta.

When produced in excess, amyloid beta causes nerve cell death and forms plaques in the brain. The amount of these amyloid plaques in the brain is used as a measurement of the severity of Alzheimer’s (loss of brain function that affects memory, thinking and behaviour), the American Journal of Pathology reports.

Led by Domenico Praticò, associate professor of pharmacology in Temple’s School of Medicine, researchers tested the drug Zileuton, which is used in treating asthma, in an engineered mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a Temple statement.

At the end of the treatment they found that this drug, by blocking the 5-lipoxygenase, reduced the production of amyloid beta and the subsequent build up of amyloid plaques in the brain by more than 50 percent.

“This drug is already in the market and, most importantly, is already approved by the FDA (Federal Drugs Agency). So you don’t need to go through an intense drug discovery process,” said Praticò.

“We could quickly begin a clinical trial to determine if there is a new application for this drug against a disease where there is currently nothing,” he added.

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