Anticancer Drugs Could Reverse Memory Loss in Alzheimer’s Patients
According to an article from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, scientists have unexpectedly discovered that two anticancer drugs may be capable of restoring memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Scientists believe that the drugs may also be able to slow the progression of memory loss and even reverse Alzheimer’s effects on patients.
The discovery was made by two labs, Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York and Singhua University in Beijing. Research was conducted on fruit flies that were genetically altered to contain Beta Amyloid (Aβ42), a protein that induces memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. The scientists found that Aβ42 directly activates the brain’s epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); division and mutations to EGFR can cause cancer. According to the researchers’ observations, when EGFR is activated by Aβ42, there is an observable link to memory loss.
The article reported that investigators carried out a behavior screen in the Alzheimer’s fruit flies and discovered that, by giving EGFR inhibitors (anticancer drugs), memory in the flies improved after just two months of treatment. Yi Zhong, Ph.D, lead researcher on the study, said, “The current work suggests that EGFR is an important factor that mediates Aβ42 toxicity and inhibition of oligomeric Aβ42-induced EGFR activation is an effective way to treat Aβ42-induced memory loss.”
Based on the findings, scientists now believe that if patients with Alzheimer’s are given the EGFR inhibitors, memory loss can be restored, slowed, or even reversed. The theory has only been tested on fruit flies and mice, but scientists are hopeful that the same effect will be seen in human Alzheimer’s patients with Aβ42-induced memory loss.
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