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Promising New Alzheimer’s ‘Drug’ Halts Memory Loss

A new class of experimental drug-like small molecules is showing great promise in targeting a brain enzyme to prevent early memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to Northwestern Medicine® research.

Called MW108, the drug-like molecule reduces the activity of an enzyme that is over-activated during Alzheimer’s and is considered a contributor to brain inflammation and impaired neuron function. Changes in the brain start to occur ten to 15 years before serious memory problems become apparent.

Developed in the laboratory of D. Martin Watterson, PhD, the molecules halted memory loss and fixed damaged communication among brain cells in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s.

“This is the starting point for the development of a new class of drugs,” says Watterson, lead author of a paper on the study and the John G. Searle Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s possible someday this class of drugs could be given early on to people to arrest certain aspects of Alzheimer’s.”

The study, a collaboration between Feinberg, Columbia University Medical Center, and the University of Kentucky, was published June 26 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The research was supported by the Thome Memorial Foundation, an Alzheimer’s Association Zenith award and grants R01 NS064247, R01 NS056051 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at NIH and grants R01 AG031311, F32 AG037280, and U01AG043415 from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.