New Study Shows that an old Drug for Treating Asthma can Restore Memory in Mice
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and researchers have discovered that an old drug that was previously used for treating asthma has shown that it can restore memory and cognitive decline in transgenic mice that were developed to have Alzheimer’s. The study headed by Dr. Domenico Praticò, MD, was published June 7, 2018 in Molecular Neurobiology.
Zileuton can Reverse Tau Pathology
The buildup of beta amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain are the two main characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have demonstrated for the first time that tau pathology can be reversed in mice by Zileuton a drug that is used to treat asthma. Previous research revealed that leukotrienes are involved in the buildup of tau in the brains of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Leukotrienes are also found in the lungs.
Zileuton Inhibits Proliferation of Leukotrienes
The researchers found that Zileuton inhibits the proliferation of leukotrienes and thus decided to try it out on tau transgenic mice that had been developed to have tau pathology like Alzheimer’s disease in their brains. The mice were divided into two groups and those that were not treated with Zileuton showed more decline in their memory and spatial learning, whereas the mice treated with Zileuton showed a reversal of their memory decline and in fact were no different from normal wild mice.
Potential to Reverse Tau Damage in Human Brains
This has an enormous potential for reversing tau damage in humans that are already afflicted with Alzheimer’s. One of the problems with Alzheimer’s is that by the time symptoms appear their brains are already suffering from a buildup of tau tangles and amyloid plaques. Also, the drug Zileuton has already been approved for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so if clinical trials with humans show it can reverse tau pathology in people who have already developed Alzheimer’s disease, then it could be prescribed rather quickly, unlike new drugs that would have to first get approval from the FDA, which can take a long time.
Alzheimer’s is the most common of all the dementias and has no real cure or medical way of preventing it. It literally destroys memory and learning centers in the hippocampus part of the brain. It is fatal and the advanced stage usually has people confined to their beds unable to perform any kinds of tasks or functions. It is the 6th cause of death in older adults, but there is evidence that it might really be the third cause of death, as many cases do not get reported. It takes an enormous emotional and financial toil on those afflicted with it and their families. One of the most tragic sides to the disease is when demented people no longer recognize their loved ones. Millions of dollars are being invested into research to find a way of preventing or curing it.
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This study showing the benefits of an old drug on restoring memory loss in mice may be what we are all waiting for. We can only hope that human trials with Zileuton will be successful and that people will literally be able to get themselves back, as their memory returns and they remember who they are and will recognize their loved ones and family members.