Fighting Alzheimer’s disease before it starts
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in the world. Some studies indicate that about 30 per cent of people over 80 have Alzheimer’s. As life expectancy increases, a dramatic rise in the incidence of Alzheimer’s is expected.
Aiming to treat the disease before patients ever show symptoms, Dr. Gerhard Multhaup, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pharmacology, is investigating how certain Alzheimer’s drug treatments interact at the molecular level.
Alzheimer’s progresses slowly, taking at least 10 to 15 years to develop from the earliest molecular changes in the brain to actual symptoms of dementia. This presymptom phase offers researchers a crucial window during which to intervene and delay?or even completely avoid?symptoms. It’s an opportunity of which Multhaup and his team want to take advantage.
Studies have shown that using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) over a long period appears to delay the disease’s onset, lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the first place. A more potent generation of NSAIDs, known as gamma-secretase modulators (GSMs), selectively reduces levels of a peptide?amyloid-β (Aβ)?responsible for causing Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, while GSMs may reduce Alzheimer’s incidence in patients not yet showing symptoms, they can also exaggerate it in people with mild symptoms or other signs of advanced brain changes.
Multhaup’s team will investigate the apparently mixed effects of NSAIDs/GSMs. With the knowledge they gain, new drug interventions for Alzheimer’s patients will be developed.
Multhaup’s research results could change the future for many, ultimately leading to better interventions for this currently devastating disorder.