Alzheimer’s brain plaques ‘rapidly cleared’ in mice
Destructive plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients have been rapidly cleared by researchers testing a cancer drug on mice.
The US study, published in the journal Science, reported the plaques were broken down at “unprecedented” speed.
Tests also showed an improvement in some brain function.
Specialists said the results were promising, but warned that successful drugs in mice often failed to work in people.
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, but one of the leading theories involves the formation of clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid. These damage and kill brain cells, eventually resulting in memory problems and the inability to think clearly.
Clearing protein plaques is a major focus of Alzheimer’s research and drugs are already being tested in human clinical trials.
In the body, the role of removing beta-amyloid falls to apolipoprotein E – or ApoE. However, people have different versions of the protein. Having the ApoE4 genetic variant is one of the biggest risk factors for developing the disease.