A common asthma drug has shown to reduce a common characteristic of Alzheimer's patients, giving rise to hope it might have potential as a treatment for the disease.
In a study conducted at Lancaster University in England, salbutamol was found to be effective at lessening the accumulation of insoluble fibers of the tau protein, which is found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.
These microscopic fibers accumulate into tangles and can cause neuron destabilization, or brain cell death, and are a key characteristic of the disease's progression.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia in the world, affecting 47 million people. It affects memory, thinking and behavior, and eventually interferes with daily tasks, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
The researchers believe the drug salbutamol engages with an early stage of tau fibril formation, reducing its ability to form a nucleus, which drives the reproduction process.
Because it is easily absorbed into the brain, and remains in the body for several hours, salbutamol has attractive properties for potential new treatment for Alzheimer's, the researchers said.
"Our work highlights the potential impact of repurposing drugs for secondary medical uses, by discovering a novel therapeutic strategy that impedes the molecular pathology of Alzheimer's disease, and which may have otherwise gone unstudied," said the study's lead author Dr. David Townsend.
"Salbutamol has already undergone extensive human safety reviews, and if follow up research reveals an ability to impede Alzheimer's disease progression in cellular and animal models, this drug could offer a step forward, whilst drastically reducing the cost and time associated with typical drug development."
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