Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have found that low doses of efavirenz, a drug used to treat AIDS, can improve the brain’s ability to clear cholesterol.
Although the experiments were performed in laboratory animals, the findings suggest that efavirenz could help treat or prevent Alzheimer’s in humans.
The drug binds to a brain enzyme that causes the breakdown of 80 percent of the brain’s cholesterol.
Efavirenz dosing is important for its cholesterol effect because high doses actually inhibit the enzyme and increase cholesterol levels.
The animal studies showed that the drug was able to remove 40 percent of the cholesterol from a mouse brain.
The observation that only small doses are needed for this effect suggests that if the medicine turns out to be effective in humans, side effects might be relatively mild.
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