Cancer Drugs Shows “Unprecedented” Ability To Treat Alzheimer’s

Listen to the Story

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University say bexarotene, a drug normally used to treat lymphoma, has shown promise removing proteins associated with Alzheimer's.(Photo: File photo (Flickr))
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University say bexarotene, a drug normally used to treat lymphoma, has shown promise removing proteins associated with Alzheimer's.(Photo: File photo (Flickr))

There’s promising news for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, the progressive brain disease that affects older people’s memory, speech, and behavior: a drug that’s been FDA approved for cancer treatment is now being studied for its potential in treating the leading cause of dementia.

Dr. Gary Landreth is chomping at the bit. The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientist says new research from his lab shows big potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is unprecedented. Period.”

Using mice, Landreth’s team has found that the drug bexarotene clears up much of the signature “plaques” that are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

This drug beefs up the body’s own ability to clean house. It sweeps away the amyloid protein, which clumps to form those plaques and is a prime suspect in brain cell death.

Bexarotene is very appealing because it’s already been tested for safety and side-effects in humans. We already use it, for cancer. And it works quickly; other drugs being tested take months to have any effect on the amyloid protein.

However, there’s still much to learn about the drug and the disease…even though improvements in cognition and memory remained steady in the mice for as much as three months, plaques did return after initially clearing from their brains. And of course it is a long road from mice to men, though Landreth says:

“We’re working at warp speed,” Landreth says.

Landreth anticipates they’ll start the first human safety trials within the next couple months.

Comments