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Experimental Alzheimer’s drug shows anti-aging effects

Salk Institute researchers have discovered that a trial drug candidate aimed towards battling Alzheimer’s contains a large amount of surprising anti-aging effects in animals.

The Salk team advanced their previous development of a drug candidate, referred to as J147, that takes a alternative tactic — focusing on Alzheimer’s major risk factor, old age. Once these mice were treated with J147, they had improved memory and cognizance, healthier blood vessels within the brain and various enhanced physiological components, as explained in the journal Aging, on November 12, 2015.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder, recently rated as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s impacts over five million Americans. It is also the most widely recognized cause of dementia in adults who are older, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The group of researchers decided to zero in on the key risk for the disease — old age. Using cell-based screens against old age-associated cerebrum toxicities, they synthesized J147.

The team used a thorough set of assessments to measure the expression of all genes within the brain, as well as over five hundred small molecules involved with metabolism within in the brains and blood of three groups of the rapidly aging mice. The three groups of rapidly aging mice included one set that was young, one set that was old and one set that was old but fed J147 as they aged.

Mice treated with J147 (right) showed improved physiology, memory and appearance that more closely resembled younger mice. Photo from the Salk Institute.
Mice treated with J147 (right) showed improved physiology, memory and appearance that more closely resembled younger mice.
Photo from the Salk Institute.

The old mice that received J147 performed better on memory and other tests for comprehension and furthermore showed more powerful motor movements. The mice treated with J147 additionally had less indications of Alzheimer’s in their brains. Essentially, as a result of the substantial data collected on the three groups of mice, it was possible to show that numerous parts of gene expression and metabolism within the old mice fed J147 were fundamentally the same of those of the young animals. These included markers for expanded energy metabolism, diminished brain inflammation and decreased levels of oxidized unsaturated fats within the brain.

While these studies represent a new and stimulating approach to Alzheimer’s drug discovery and animal testing within the context of aging, the sole way to show the clinical pertinence of the work is to move J147 into human clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, which the researchers aim to start next year.