A new drug compound has been found which may help reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The compound, TC-2153, inhibits the negative effects of a protein called STriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP) which is key to regulating learning and memory. These cognitive functions are impaired in Alzheimer’s.
“Decreasing STEP levels reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in mice,” says Paul Lombroso, professor at the Yale Child Study Center and in the Departments of Neurobiology and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.
In Australia, 320,000 are living with dementia and the problem is increasing as more people live longer. Each week, there are 1,700 new cases in Australia.
Lombroso and co-authors studied thousands of small molecules, searching for those that would inhibit STEP activity.
Once identified, those STEP-inhibiting compounds were tested in brain cells to examine how effectively they could halt the effects of STEP.
They examined the most promising compound in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, and found a reversal in several exercises which gauge ability to remember objects.
“The small molecule inhibitor is the result of a five-year collaborative effort to search for STEP inhibitors,” says Lombroso. “A single dose of the drug results in improved cognitive function in mice.”
The team is currently testing the TC compound in other animals including rats and primates.
“These studies will determine whether the compound can improve cognitive deficits in other animal models,” says Lombroso.
“Successful results will bring us a step closer to testing a drug that improves cognition in humans.”
The findings are publishing the journal PLOS Biology.
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