A new Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) drug may have been found on the pharmacy shelves, where it’s currently FDA-approved as a treatment for a different disease. That’s the conclusion of a National Institutes of Health funded study of Buphenyl on mice, according to a recent report by Rush University Medical Center researchers published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Kalipada Pahan, a neurologist who was also the lead investigator, said that they were looking into a family of proteins that vanish in the brains of patients with AD. The proteins are called neurotrophic factors, and they simply help brain cells work and survive. As the proteins disappear from the victim’s brain, the patient loses the ability to learn and remember.
If doctors had a simple pill that replaced these proteins, it might be a fast, cost effective way to help people with the disease. Pahan’s study showed that when they fed the drug to mice, it was digested in a way that allowed it to go to the brain and increase the number of the helpful proteins found there.
The race is on to find a cure or at least an effective treatment to slow the progression of AD. Because of the aging worldwide population, the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is projected to triple by 2050. Research has suggested that people try everything from drinking green tea to asking your doctor about a prescription for beta blockers.
Buphenyl may have an important advantage for elders who need help now. Although new to Alzheimer’s patients, it’s already on the market. It’s currently prescribed to treat hyperammonemia, a life-threatening disease that allows high levels of ammonia to build up in the bloodstream.
Of course, testing Buphenyl on mouse brains is only the first step. Next, the researchers want to test the new drug on actual Alzheimer’s patients.