Scientists at Temple University have made a groundbreaking discovery in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
They have found that drugs called carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (CAIs), which are already FDA-approved for other conditions can help reverse the effects of cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), a major cause of the aging-related cognitive decline.
In Alzheimer’s disease, a sticky protein called amyloid beta builds up in blood vessels in the brain, causing inflammation and dysfunction in brain cells.
Over time, this leads to CAA, which further accelerates cognitive decline.
The research found that CAIs can help promote the clearance of amyloid beta from blood vessels and glial cells in the brain, reduce inflammation, restore cell function, and prevent cognitive impairment.
The study is the first to test the effects of FDA-approved CAIs acetazolamide and methazolamide on animals with cerebrovascular alterations similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
The researchers treated mice with these drugs from around eight months of age, when signs of amyloid pathology first emerge in these animals, until around 15 or 16 months, when advanced cognitive impairment is present.
The researchers found strong reductions in amyloid in the cerebral vasculature and in glial cells, healthier glial cells and blood vessels, and better amyloid-clearing capacity compared to untreated animals.
The researchers also conducted analyses of post-mortem human brain tissue from Alzheimer’s patients.
They found that levels of a specific carbonic anhydrase enzyme found in mitochondria were abnormally elevated in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease and CAA patients.
The researchers believe this is the first time carbonic anhydrase has been identified as a key factor in humans affected by these conditions.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness that affects millions of people worldwide, and there is currently no cure.
It is the most common cause of dementia, a group of brain disorders that cause problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.
While there are medications available that can temporarily improve symptoms or slow down the progression of the disease, there is no way to stop or reverse the underlying brain damage that leads to Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that approximately 6.2 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2021.
This number is projected to increase to 13.8 million by 2050, with the aging population being the primary factor driving this increase.
The disease takes a severe emotional and financial toll on patients and their families, with the annual cost of caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias estimated to be over $355 billion in the United States alone.
The search for a cure or an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is ongoing, and this latest research breakthrough is a significant step forward in that direction.
While clinical trials are still needed to determine the safety and efficacy of CAIs for CAA and Alzheimer’s disease in humans, the findings offer hope that a new treatment option may soon be available to help prevent or slow down cognitive decline in people at risk of Alzheimer’s.
In the meantime, there are lifestyle changes people can make to help reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
These include staying physically active, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and staying socially engaged.
If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about the root cause of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s, and 5 steps to protect against Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that herb rosemary could help fight COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce the risk of dementia.
The study was conducted by Elisa Canepa et al and published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
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