In recent years, scientists have been exploring various ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
One such research comes from Dr. Linda Van Eldik’s lab at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
The team’s latest study revolves around a protein called p38 and how anti-inflammatory drugs that target this protein could potentially be used as effective treatments for Alzheimer’s.
The Role of p38 Protein and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
The p38 protein has been a major focus for many researchers, as it’s thought to be a promising target for the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and other conditions that involve neuroinflammatory dysfunction.
In Alzheimer’s, one of the main problems is the buildup of amyloid plaques, and researchers have been studying whether targeting p38 might help slow or stop this process.
Using genetic techniques, Van Eldik’s team stopped the production of p38 in the brain’s primary immune cells, known as microglia.
They tested this in mice with early-stage Alzheimer’s to see if it would change the way amyloid plaques form.
The Results: Some Surprises and Some Hope
Interestingly, the team found that stopping p38 production didn’t affect the plaques themselves.
However, they saw fewer microglia around the plaques, indicating that suppressing p38 in these cells could impact their interactions with Alzheimer’s disease markers.
Some types of anti-inflammatory drugs are known as p38 inhibitors, and these drugs are currently undergoing clinical trials. Early results from these trials have been promising.
Yet, researchers are still trying to figure out the best time to administer these drugs during the disease process and whether long-term use of p38 inhibitors could be harmful.
Despite these uncertainties, the Van Eldik lab’s findings offer some hope. They suggest that using p38 inhibitors early in the disease could alter how brain immune cells interact with Alzheimer’s disease markers.
Plus, long-term suppression of p38 does not seem to cause noticeable harmful effects.
These results contribute to the growing body of knowledge on Alzheimer’s disease and pave the way for further exploration of potential treatments.
It’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research, and every new finding brings us one step closer to a possible cure.
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The study was published in PLOS ONE.
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