7.28.2004

Drugs called protein kinase C (PKC) activators seem to attack the cause of Alzheimer's disease as well as the symptoms, according to findings from an animal study.

"The medications currently used to treat Alzheimer's disease only treat the symptoms," senior author Dr. Daniel L. Alkon, from Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute in Rockville, Maryland, said in a statement. The PKC activators, by contrast, treat the cause and the symptoms, he added.

This occurs because PKC, an enzyme, appears to play a role in both Alzheimer's memory loss and in the protein buildup that causes the disease, according to the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study, Alkon's team evaluated the effects of two PKC activators -- benzolactam and bryostatin -- in cell cultures and in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease.

In cell cultures, the drugs produced chemical changes that could have beneficial effects in patients with Alzheimer's disease. In mice, the drugs reduced protein build-up in the brain, helped prevent premature death, and improved behavioral outcomes, the report indicates.

Bryostatin is currently being investigated as an anticancer agent in humans, the authors note. "Given its...relatively low toxicity, and current use in humans," the agent may be a candidate for development as an Alzheimer's treatment, they add.




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