Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment - Drug Commonly Used For Asthma May Be New Treatment Option

Researchers at Temple University’s School of Medicine have shown that a protein in the brain, known as 5-lipoxygenase, performs a regulatory function in the creation of the amyloid beta in the brain, the chief constituent of plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, they concluded that inhibitors of this protein employed to fight asthma could also be a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The study, “5-Lipoxygenase as Endogenous Modulator of Amyloid Beta Formation in Vivo,” was published in the Annals of Neurology.

According to Domenico Praticò, lead researcher of the study, the protein exists in vast amounts in the area of the brain that deals with memory called the hippocampus. He and his team found out that 5-lipoxygenase actually increases in quantity throughout the aging process.

“What we found was 5-lipoxygenase regulates and controls the amount of total amyloid beta produced in the brain,” said Praticò. “With aging, the more 5-lipoxygenase you have the more amyloid beta you’re going to produce. This will translate into a higher risk to develop full Alzheimer’s.”

A prior lab investigation by Praticò where a mouse with this protein was crossed with a mouse without the genetic feature of 5-lipoxygenase showed that when the protein is not present the intensity of the disease is cut in half.

“It has been known for years that the 5-lipoxygenase is an important protein in other areas of the body, such as the lung, but nobody really cared about its role in the brain,” he said. “Based on some previously known information, we questioned whether this enzyme was a primary or secondary player in the development of Alzheimer’s. What we found was a new primary role for an old enzyme.”

He continues, “If you can modulate this enzyme easily, then you can control the amount of total amyloid beta that is produced by the gamma secretase in the brain, thus controlling the amount of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Pratico elaborated that many FDA-approved 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors being employed in the treatment of asthma have been lab tested for Alzheimer’s disease with positive results.

“These drugs are already on the market, they’re inexpensive and, most importantly, they are already FDA-approved, so you wouldn’t need to go through an intense drug discovery process,” said Praticò. “So you could quickly begin a clinical trial to determine if there is a new application for an old drug against a disease where there is currently nothing.”

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