Harvard Medical School researchers recently made progress in developing a novel strategy for testing new Alzheimer’s medicines.
The October 12, 2014 online issue of the journal Nature reported that primitive neural stem cells could be grown in a laboratory dish to develop the brain abnormalities of Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists were able to create both the abnormal amyloid plaque and tau tangle proteins that accumulate in the memory and thinking areas of the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Previous lab models created in mice were able to produce plaques or tangles but not both proteins at the same time.
In this new study, the researchers also found that when they increased the levels of a certain enzyme, they could reduce the formation of tau tangles, which can be toxic to brain cells.
Next, the scientists plan to screen large numbers of drugs to see whether they can disrupt the growth of the Alzheimer’s proteins.
Although these findings are of considerable research interest, it is unknown whether this approach will ultimately lead to new drug therapies in patients with the disease.
It can be a long way from a laboratory dish to an effective treatment for a complex disease such as Alzheimer’s.
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