An experimental drug improved the memory and brain function in older mice with advanced symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Salk Institute in San Diego found that the drug, known as J147, increased levels of proteins that form the connections responsible for learning and memory, and reduced levels of a protein linked to cell death in the mice.
This explains how treating the mice with J147 led to an increase in factors that are necessary for correct memory function, according to the authors of the study, which was published online May 13 in the journal Alzheimer's Research & Therapy.
The effectiveness of J147 is the result of a new drug-discovery approach developed at the Salk Institute, said David Schubert, who heads the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory.
"Our approach to screening drugs is very different from that currently used by pharmaceutical companies," Schubert said in a journal news release. "Alzheimer's disease is a complex disease associated with old age, and our goal is to make drugs like J147 that reduce the multiple toxicities associated with the disease, not just one.
"We believe that J147 is the best Alzheimer's disease drug candidate in the pipeline and will be effective if we can get it into the clinic," he added.
The researchers noted that separate studies found that J147 and another drug called donepezil (brand name Aricept) improved short-term memory and another form of memory commonly lost in Alzheimer's patients. They said that only J147 improved spatial memory, which relates to remembering information about places, such as knowing your way around your neighborhood.
Success in animal research is no guarantee of similar results in human research.