FDA-approved Drugs Slow or Reverse Alzheimer’s

A research team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified potential new treatment targets for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as existing drugs that have therapeutic potential against these targets.

The potential targets are defective proteins that lead to the buildup of amyloid in the brain, contributing to the onset of problems with memory and thinking that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. The 15 existing drugs identified by the researchers have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other purposes, providing the possibility of clinical trials that could begin sooner than is typical, according to the researchers.

In addition, the experiments yielded seven drugs that may be useful for treating faulty proteins linked to Parkinson’s disease, six for stroke and one for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Scientists have worked for decades to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s by targeting genes rooted in the disease process but have had little success. That approach has led to several dead ends because many of those genes don’t fundamentally alter proteins at work in the brain. The new study takes a different approach, by focusing on proteins in the brain, and other tissues, whose function has been altered.

In this study, we used human samples and the latest technologies to better understand the biology of Alzheimer’s disease,” said principal investigator Carlos Cruchaga, the Reuben Morriss III Professor of Neurology and a professor of psychiatry. “Using Alzheimer’s disease samples, we’ve been able to identify new genes, druggable targets and FDA-approved compounds that interact with those targets to potentially slow or reverse the progress of Alzheimer’s.”

The scientists focused on protein levels in the brain, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood plasma of people with and without Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the proteins were made by genes previously linked to Alzheimer’s risk, while others were made by genes not previously connected to the disease. After identifying the proteins, the researchers compared their results to several databases of existing drugs that affect those proteins.

The new study, funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Source: https://source.wustl.edu/

Speak Is Sufficient To Spread Coronavirus

Tiny droplets of saliva that are sprayed into the air when people speak may be sufficient to spread coronavirus, according to US government scientists who say the finding could help control the outbreak. Researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland found that talking released thousands of fine droplets into the air that could pose a risk to others if the speaker were infected with the virus.

The scientists used laser imaging and high-speed videography to show how thousands of droplets that are too small to see with the naked eye are emitted in normal speech, even in short phrases such as “stay healthy”. The work is preliminary and has not been peer-reviewed or published, but in a report the scientists claim the findings may have “vital implications” for containing the pandemic.

If speaking and oral fluid viral load proves to be a major mechanism of Sars-CoV-2 [the official name of the virus] transmission, wearing any kind of cloth mouth cover in public by every person, as well as strict adherence to social distancing and handwashing, could significantly decrease the transmission rate and thereby contain the pandemic until a vaccine becomes available,” the researchers write.

The results will fuel the ongoing debate over whether or not healthy people should wear face masks in public. Recent advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for members of the public to wear cloth face covers when they visit places where it is hard to maintain physical distancing, such as pharmacies and grocery stores.

But the US advice contrasts with that from the World Health Organization, which reviewed its stance on face masks last week. In updated guidance published on Monday it restated that there was no evidence wearing a mask in public prevented people from picking up respiratory infections such as Covid-19.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/

Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Likely Within Five Years

The head of the Trump administration’s medical research institution predicted the United States would be closer to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease within the next five years.

Will we have a cure this year? Probably not,” National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said on New Year’s Eve in an interview with Newsmakers on C-SPAN. “Will we have a way to figure out how to slow the disease in the next five years? I believe we will, but it is going to take every bit of energy, creativity, determination, and resources possible to get there.

Collins, who has led the NIH for more than a decade, didn’t specify a figure for how much funding would be needed to make progress on Alzheimer’s, the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Research on another leading killer, cancer, has surpassed $5 billion in funding for years, and researchers have been able to develop new ways to address certain types.

In its latest spending bill, Congress increased NIH funding for dementia research, including Alzheimer’s, by $350 million, bringing the total amount devoted to the cause to $2.8 billion. The budget is four times what it was six years ago. NIH conducts research in-house and provides grants to outside scientists. “We will put every dime of that to good use,” Collins said.

Despite some increases in funding several years in a row, there’s still no way to cure the disease or to slow it, leaving public health experts and policymakers concerned about how the U.S. will care for the 14 million adults who are predicted to have Alzheimer’s by 2050, as well as for their caregivers.

For years, scientists were primarily focused on the theory that if they could get rid of a protein buildup in the brain called “amyloid,” then they could get rid of Alzheimer’s disease. Their research, however, came up dry. Now, Collins noted in the interview, scientists are looking at a lot of different approaches to addressing Alzheimer’s. “We have hedged our bets at the NIH over the course of the last five or six years to look in every nook and cranny,” Collins said.

Source: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/