New class of drugs could be used in treating Alzheimer’s

12/16/2008

SARASOTA, Fla. Researchers have detected a possible target for new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Roskamp Institute announced Tuesday that its researchers had found a link between the disease and inflammation and that this could lead to the development of new Alzheimer’s drugs. The study is published online in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Biology Journal. 

Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by inflammation, and abnormal deposits of the protein amyloid accumulate in the brains of those with the disease, often triggering inflammation. The inflammation is thought to eventually destroy nerve cells. 

The Roskamp researchers have found that inflammation can lead to the production of more amyloid, and they found that a receptor on the nerve cell surface called CXCR2 is an interface between inflammation and new amyloid production. As inflammatory molecules contact CXCR2, the contact generates a signal that results in increased amyloid production. In other words, the presence of amyloid contributes to its own reproduction. 

“[We] found that by genetically knocking out CXCR2, we can reduce the amount of amyloid in various laboratory models and, by using drugs that specifically block the CXCR2 receptor, we are able to show that a decrease in production of amyloid can be achieved,” Roskamp researcher Pancham Bakshi said in a statement. “This study, which for the first time shows the early role of inflammation in [Alzheimer’s disease], opens a new door for therapeutic intervention, potentially leading to the use of CXCR2 blocking agents as a way to treat both the inflammation and the amyloid production in Alzheimer’s disease.” 

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