Research Update on Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Discovery Efforts

Penn’s Drug Discovery team in the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research has been hard at work, since identifying and testing a class of drug last year that is able to enter the brain in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, where it stabilizes degenerating neurons and improves memory and learning.

A promising update on the research is posted today on the Penn Medicine News site:

A study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that the compound epothilone D (EpoD) is effective in preventing further neurological damage and improving cognitive performance in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The results establish how the drug might be used in early-stage AD patients.

Investigators from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, led by first author Bin Zhang, MD, PhD, senior research investigator, and senior author Kurt R. Brunden, PhD, Director of Drug Discovery at the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), administered EpoD to aged mice that had memory deficits and inclusions within their brains that resemble the tangles formed by misfolded tau protein, a hallmark of AD. In nerve cells, tau normally stabilizes structures called microtubules, the molecular railroad tracks upon which cellular cargo is transported. Tangles may compromise microtubule stability, with resulting damage to nerve cells. A drug that could increase microtubule stability might improve nerve-cell function in AD and other diseases where tangles form in the brain.

Read more on the research via the Penn Medicine News press release, and in an article by AFP.

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