Now, researchers at the University of Leicester have developed a new class of drug that has been shown to restore memory loss, slow progression and increase the lifespan of mice with a similar degenerative disease. The team hopes that the finding could lead to new treatment options for Alzheimer's in humans.
The study used allosteric ligands, a type of drug that activates a protein in the brain called the M1 muscarinic receptor, which is believed to be associated with Alzheimer's. Activating this protein has been shown to improve the cognition of mice afflicted with progressive brain degeneration, and other drugs have tested the technique in the past.
The problem is, although activating the M1 muscarinic receptor showed promise in aiding brain function, the patients taking those drugs suffered severe side effects. But in this study, the team's allosteric ligands managed to keep the positive results in mice with none of the unwanted side effects. Even better, a daily dose appears to stave off an early grave.