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Study Identifies New Compound That Stops Brain Cell Death

A drug which can stop brain cell death has been discovered, according to research published today (Wednesday 9 October). The research, undertaken by the Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester, builds on a previous study, which was published in the journal, Nature last year.

The initial research identified a major pathway leading to brain cell death in mice infected with prion disease. Now the same team have been able to use an orally-administered compound to block the pathway and prevent neurodegeneration in mice. The biological pathway involved targeting unfolded proteins which are known to build up in Alzheimer’s disease, making this new compound a potential candidate treatment for dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society comment:

‘This is a promising development as it shows this biological pathway is a potential target for new treatments.  However, it is important to note that this study was carried out on mice with prion disease and so it is not clear how applicable it is to humans with diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

‘What we need now is further research into potential drugs which can target the same pathway.  Whilst the ability to stop neurodegeneration in its tracks would be hugely exciting, we are still a long way from seeing a drug which is suitable for human use.’

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