Drug stops dementia in mice
Researchers at Duke University found a way to possibly prevent Alzheimer’s and improve dementia by altering the brain’s immune system.
The team of researchers identified microglia—immune cells that are normally the first line of defense against infection in the brain—as possible major players in the progression of dementia because they attack nutrients in the brain. They found that some microglia adapt in the early stages of dementia to break down an amino acid called arginine. This finding could open up potential new treatments for dementia and new types of research for the disease.
Experiments using a chemical to block the enzymes that destroy arginine in mice showed promising results. The mice exhibited fewer signs of dementia, such as decreased amounts of damaged protein in the brain and improved memory tests.
One researcher noted a drug that could target this chemical break down of the amino acid could help prevent Alzheimer’s. However, they also noted arginine supplements are not a viable solution as the increased levels of the amino acid would still be targeted. More research is needed, particularly clinical trials in humans, before any possible treatment is developed.