A Cancer Drug Could Cure Alzheimer's
A cancer drug that’s already on the market could reverse and even eliminate Alzheimer’s symptoms, a recent study shows.
Neuroscientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine conducted the study. They administered the drug bexarotene to mice who were genetically engineered to show signs of Alzheimer’s; within 72 hours, the researchers said, the mice showed renewed cognitive skills like being able to build a nest.
Within six hours, the drug also removed the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain; amyloid plaque is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Bexarotene, also known as Targretin, was approved in 1999 to treat a type of skin cancer known as T-cell lymphoma.
Lead author Paige Cramer, Ph.D candidate, said in a statement, "This is an unprecedented finding. Previously, the best existing treatment for Alzheimer's disease in mice required several months to reduce plaque in the brain."
But researchers cautioned patients who are eager to try the treatment that further studies are needed. “The drug works quite well in mouse models of the disease,” neuroscientist Gary Landreth, PhD., said in a statement. “Our next objective is to ascertain if it acts similarly in humans.”
Because the drug already exists and has been approved, though, physicans can prescribe it for “off-label use” to treat Alzheimer’s.