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Health Information Under the Microscope: Targeting Alzheimer's Disease

Scientists identify a potential new drug for Alzheimer's disease.

With a dramatic rise in Alzheimer's disease cases expected in the coming decades, scientists remain diligent in their search for treatments. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center have gotten some promising results from some of their recent investigations, identifying a drug that has the potential to combat the disease.

Buphenyl, an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of the life-threatening disease hyperammonemia, may also protect memory and prevent the progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to a preliminary, National Institutes of Health-funded study including neurological researchers at Rush.

The study, which was published in this past February’s edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, found that Buphenyl may preserve a patient’s ability to learn and prevent the deterioration of memory.

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking, and it is the most common cause of dementia among older people, affecting as many as 5.3 million Americans. In most people with Alzheimer's, symptoms first appear after the age of 60.

Buphenyl's Brain Boost

Past research indicates that a family of proteins called neurotrophic factors are drastically decreased in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. These proteins are responsible for the growth and survival of neurons, which facilitate communication within the brain and from the brain to other parts of the body. The study findings indicate Buphenyl may increase neurotrophic factors.

"Using an oral medication, such as Buphenyl, to increase the level of these proteins may be the best treatment option," says Kalipada Pahan, PhD, a neuroscientist at Rush and lead investigator of the study. "Now we need to see if this works with patients and continue to test Buphenyl. Further research may open up a promising avenue of treatment for this devastating disease."


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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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May 2013


 

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