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22 April 2017, 01:29 | Todd Saunders
The drugs blocked an important pathway linked to brain cell death caused by prion disorders such as Creutzfeldt Jakob disease and dementia
The study finds that a licensed antidepressant called trazodone and a compound in liquorice called dibenzoylmethane (DBM) are able to reduce brain cell death in mice with prion disease and with frontotemporal dementia.
Study leader Prof. Giovanna Mallucci, of the MRC's Toxicology Unit and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues believe that their findings could lead to much-needed treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases in as little as 2 to 3 years.
Looking back, in 2013 a United Kingdom medical research council team was able to stop brain cells from dying in an animal as reported by BBC. This feat was a first of its nature to be accomplished, thus making global headlines and sparking enthusiastic hopes for people suffering from degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's.
The present study was conducted in continuation to a similar study made in 2013.
The research was funded by the MRC and Professor Mallucci was also funded by a grant from Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.
Misfolded proteins build up in the brain in several neurodegenerative diseases and are a major factor in dementias such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson s as well as prion diseases. This is a natural defense strategy of the brain cells, in which the brain cells shut down intracellular protein production and undergo apoptosis as soon as they detect a significant quantity of intracellular misfolded proteins.
Though it is expected that trazodone will exert the same neuroprotective role on human brain cells as it did in experimental mice models, its possible effects in reversing the effects of already inflicted damage on the brain cells is not known.
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For the new study, Prof. However, the effectiveness of Trazodone for humans with dementia has yet to be proven.
The researchers identified a number of compounds that showed promise for restoring protein production in the brain cells of neurodegenerative disease mouse models.
Prion diseases refer to a group of progressive neurodegenerative conditions, which can affect both animals as well as humans.
FTD is a type of dementia caused by the loss of brain cells in the frontal lobes of the brain. Further tests have now revealed existing drugs designed originally as anti-depressant and anti-cancer therapies that can do the same and that are potentially safe for human use.
In most of the mouse models of prion disease, both drugs prevented signs of brain cell death by recovering protein production, and in FTD mouse models, the drugs restored memory.
Fortunately, a study reveals that Trazodone may have another goal; slowing down brain shrinkage. Repurposed drugs targeting eIF2α-P-mediated translational repression prevent neurodegeneration in mice, Brain (2017).
The team notes that the side effects of both drugs were minimal.
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