Scientists from Saint Louis University have developed a molecular compound proven to reverse Alzheimer’s disease symptoms in mice. The compound has also been found to reduce inflammation in the area of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning. Is this “miracle” compound a major milestone in curing Alzheimer’s in humans?
The Potential to Reverse Alzheimer’s Symptoms
According to a study published in May 2014’s Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, a team of researchers from Saint Louis University developed an antisense compound that reversed Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice. The compound called antisense oligonucleotide (OL-1) is being hailed as a potential treatment for the disease.
An antisense compound is a strand of molecules that are able to turn off a certain gene by binding to a messenger RNA. The compound has been proven effective against Alzheimer’s because it triggers a series of events that prevents excess beta amyloid proteins from being produced in the brain. These beta amyloid proteins create plaques in the brain and are widely thought to be the cause of the disease.
To test the effectiveness of the compound, OL-1 was given to mice that were genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s. Other mice, also engineered to have the disease, were given a random antisense compound. After receiving their respective compounds, the mice completed various trials to test memory, learning and behavior. Researchers observed that those mice who received OL-1 had improved learning and memory over the mice who received the random antisense.
From Mice to Men
Researchers note that this is the second successful study of its kind. However, it is also important to note that not all scientists believe that beta amyloid plaques are responsible for Alzheimer’s. If they are correct, the antisense compound would not help treat the disease’s symptoms in humans.
Though, lead researcher and professor of geriatrics at Saint Louis University, Susan Farr, Ph.D., argues:
“Our findings reinforce the importance of amyloid beta protein in the Alzheimer’s disease process.”
“They suggest that an antisense that targets the precursor to amyloid beta protein is a potential therapy to explore to reversing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.
While both studies give researchers hope that the compound will be effective in humans, all studies have been completed with mice, thus far. “To be effective in humans, OL-1 would need to be effective at suppressing production of human amyloid beta protein,” Farr said. Toxicity tests will need to be completed before a similar experiment can be conducted in a human clinical trial.
Do you think this study has the potential to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms in humans? Share your thoughts in the comments below.