A new study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia has found that if people take FDA-approved drug memantine before the symptoms occur, they may prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The research was done by a team from the University of Virginia.
Previously, scientists have found that about 50% of people who reach the age of 85 will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Most people experience severe memory loss and a decline in cognitive function.
They die within about five years of exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
The drug memantine could help alleviate the symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease.
In this study, the researchers aimed to find a better way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
It has shown that the molecular processes that lead to Alzheimer’s could begin years earlier than the symptoms.
According to the researchers, when Alzheimer’s disease begins, there is a lengthy period of time when brain neurons affected by the disease attempt to divide to compensate for the death of neurons.
This is unusual in that most neurons develop prenatally and then never divide again.
However, in Alzheimer’s the cells make the attempt, and then die. About 90% of neuron death that occurs in the Alzheimer’s brain follows this cell cycle.
At the late stage of the disease, most patients will have lost 30% of the neurons in the frontal lobes of the brain.
It is possible that the excess calcium entering neurons through calcium channels drive those neurons back into the cell cycle. Then plaques will be found in the Alzheimer’s brain.
The plaques are built by a protein called amyloid beta oligomers.
In the study, the team found when neurons are exposed to toxic amyloid oligomers, the channel called the NMDA receptor opens and allows the calcium flow that drives neurons back into the cell cycle.
The drug The drug Memantine could block cell cycle by closing the NMDA receptor.
This means if patients could take the drug before the symptoms occur, they may protect themselves from the disease.
The researchers suggest that their findings provide new understanding of how the disease develops at the molecular level, long before extensive neuronal damage occurs and symptoms show up.
They suggest that potential patients need to be screened for Alzheimer’s biomarkers years before symptoms appear. Then they may take the drug. The side effects are infrequent and modest.
The study lead researcher is George Bloom, a UVA professor and chair of the Department of Biology.
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