Within the journal Science, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health scientists confirm that a study which was performed on a mouse model with Alzheimer’s disease, when treated with an anti-cancer drug, significantly improved its brain function and memory capabilities. The cancer drug, known as bexarotene, which was previously studied and used for cullaneous T-cell Lymphoma, was shown to drastically improve the level of cognitive deficits within the brains of mice that were expressing gene mutations that were linked to human Alzheimer’s disease, but the study could not confirm the effect it had on amyloids plaque, the build-up of toxic proteins in the brain that effectively leads to a number of brain-damaging diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
    Dr. Rada Koldamova, M.D and Ph.D., senior author and associate professor at Pitt Public said with confidence that the continual study of bexarotene for therapeutic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. For this study, Dr. Koldamova and her team studied mice that expressed human Apoliopoprotein E4 (APOE4), otherwise known as the only genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Bexarotene is chemically related to vitamin A and activates Retinoic X Receptors (RXR) all over the body, and once activated, they bind to DNA, and regulate gene expression of many biological processes, with a consequence of increased levels of APOE4, thanks to RXR activation by bexarotene.
    Results of the study showed that male and female mice responded equally, and that after ten days of beginning the testing with bexarotene, mice that genetically expressed human Alzheimer’s APOE3 or APOE4 were able to perform as well in cognitive testing as their non-Alzheimer’s counterpart mice. The drug testing did not affect the mice’s overall weight or behavior, merely their level of cognition and memory retention.

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences (2013, May 23). Drug reverses Alzheimer's disease deficits in mice.

By Lauren Horne


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