Alzheimer’s damage reversed by a drug

An experimental drug improves the learning and memory skills of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, and reconnects cells in their brains, according to new Yale-led research.

Stephen M. Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology and of neuroscience, and colleagues had previously found that the receptor mGluR5, found on the surface of brain cells, was a key to explaining how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. mGluR5, they discovered, transmits the damaging effects of amyloid beta and prion proteins to the inside of brain cells, causing the hallmark dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s. But mGluR5 is also required for normal brain function, so fully blocking it is not an option to treat disease.

In the new work, published July 5 in Cell Reports, Strittmatter’s team tested the Silent Allosteric Modulator (SAM) drug BMS-984923, which keeps mGluR5 from interacting with amyloid beta and prion proteins without blocking its normal function. While the drug did not lower levels of the usually damaging proteins, it prevented them from diminishing brain cell function. The treatment also reversed existing Alzheimer’s symptoms in the mice.


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