Two Studies Show FDA Approved Drugs May Contribute to a Future Alzheimer's Cure
Two studies published in academic journals this week have reported possible future treatment benefits for people with Alzheimer's disease using medications already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other diseases. The first, examines the use of antiviral drugs, whilst the second is a drug commonly used in the treatment of epilepsy.
Could a Common Virus be the Cause of Alzheimer's Disease?
A common cold sore virus could be linked to Alzheimer's disease according to research from the University of Manchester in England. The preliminary findings suggest that the cold sore virus, known as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1), is implicated in up to 60 percent of Alzheimer's cases.
If the research findings are correct it may be that cheap antiviral drugs currently approved for the treatment of cold sores could prove effective in Alzheimer's disease too. HSV1 medications, such as Acyclovir and Zovirax, could halt the brain cell degeneration that lead to the brain shrinkage seen in Alzheimer's.
It is too early to say in what way HSV1 may be implicated in Alzheimer's disease and whether it causes the brain damage seen in Alzheimer's. The researchers, Professor Ruth Itzhaki and Dr Wozniak, did find herpes simplex virus 1 in the amyloid plaques in the brains of people who had died from the disease.
So, should you worry if you have had the cold sore virus? About 80 percent of adults have HSV1 dormant in their nervous system, and about 20 to 40 percent develop cold sores from it. Researchers believe that HSV1, acting in combination with a genetic factor, and other variants, may lead to the development of Alzheimer's.
Viral theories have been postulated for a long time as a cause of Alzheimer's. The slow viral theory "has been identified as a cause of some brain disorders that closely resemble Alzheimer's".
Could Epilepsy Drug Offer Treatment Options for Alzheimer's?
The second study, comes from research carried out at the University of Leeds in England. Researchers suggest that a drug commonly used to control epilepsy could soon be a treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
The drug, sodium valporate, was found to stimulate the body's natural defenses against the disease. Sodium valporate, like the antiviral drugs, is already approved by the FDA. The researchers found the drug boosted production of an enzyme preventing the build up of proteins in brain cells. The protein, or plaques as we know them, interfere with nerve cells communicating with each other and so interfere with the brain's ability to function normally. It is plaques, along with neurofibrillary tangles, that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
Again, as in the previous study, more research is required before any treatment using this well tolerated drug can be prescribed for Alzheimer's.