Targeting Inflammation

New developments and research into treating Alzheimer's disease are always welcome. Researchers from the Department of General Anesthesiology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine have developed a drug that promises an improved treatment. The drug is called NTRX-07, and is the feature of a study conducted in mice and presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2016 annual meeting.

“This drug may reduce inflammation in the brain, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease,” says lead researcher Mohamed Naguib of Cleveland Clinic. Alzheimer's is known to produce abnormal brain inflammation due to the unusual development of protein clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of brain fibers that cause to neuron damage. The new drug prevents this inflammation from occurring, and preserves neurons and regenerative brain cells.

“NTRX-07 uses a different mechanism than many other Alzheimer’s drugs currently available, as it targets the cause of the disease, not just the symptoms,” Naguib explains.

Amyloid plaques on a neuron. Credits: TUM/Juan Gärtner

Restoring Memory and Lives

During tests on mice bred to show neurodegenerative issues similar to Alzheimer's, NTRX-07 showed memory-restoring abilities. They saw how inflammation affected the microglia cells in the brain — the immune cells that usually remove amyloid plaques (protein clumps) in the brain.

These microglia cells have surface receptors called CB2, which causes the anti-inflammatory response when activated. NTRX-07 targets CB2 receptors, decreasing inflammation and stops further brain tissue damage.

NTRX-07 also improved memory performance and other cognitive skills, particularly through the production of a protein called SOX2. This protein helps new brain cells develop and protects the brain of those already affected by Alzheimer's.

Though not yet definitive, NTRX-07 can help around 44 million people in the world — more than five million in the US alone — said to have Alzheimer's. The research has received a $1.7 million investment from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, plus another $700,000 from the Alzheimer’s Association. Development of the drug for human clinical trials are set to begin in 2017.

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