Drug shows promise of fighting Alzheimer's in mice
Researchers from Yale Medical School, working with mice, have discovered a compound that they say was able to reverse the brain deficits from Alzheimer's disease.
The drug affected a specific protein, called STtriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP), which is essential to regulating learning and memory. These functions are impaired in Alzheimer's disease.
For the study, the researchers studied thousands of small molecules, searching for the ones that would inhibit STEP activity. Once they were identified, researchers tested them in brain cells to see how effectively they inhibited the effects of STEP. They tried the most promising compound on mice with Alzheimer's disease and found that it reversed deficits in several cognitive exercises that gauged the memory of the mice.
High levels of STEP in the brain keeps synapses from strengthening, which is a necessary process for turning short-term memories into long-term memories. STEP also depletes receptors from synaptic sites and inactivates other proteins necessary for cognitive function.
Researchers found that a single dose of the drug resulted in improved cognition in the mice. The team is now testing the compound in other animals, such as rats and non-human primates.