University of Glasgow makes Alzheimer breakthrough

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Credit: Horia Varlan

Ashley Neilson
Writer

A report published by a research group based at Glasgow University has revealed significant developments in the search for drugs to effectively tackle Alzheimer’s Disease.

The report, co-authored by Andrew Tobin, Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at Glasgow, reveals the findings of a four-year investigation into new ways of tackling the illness that began when the team were at the University of Leister and has developed since their move to Glasgow.

The investigation used mice whose brain cells were deteriorating in ways similar to people suffering from Alzheimer’s. The results show potential, not only to combat the symptoms of the disease as current medications already do, but to slow the development of the illness and limit further damage to the brain.

Commenting on the publication, Professor Tobin said: “The paper describes drug-like molecules that can restore memory loss and slow progression of prion neurodegenerative disease in a manner that relates to the potential of these drugs in human Alzheimer’s disease.

“We have treated mice with a new class of drug, and found that these drugs can not only improve symptoms of brain degeneration, such as cognitive decline, but can also extend the life-span of these terminally-sick mice.”

A spokesperson for the Glasgow University Dementia Society said: “Current drugs used to treat [Alzheimer’s’] symptoms do not specifically target the consequences of the disease alone, and can therefore be poorly tolerated due to side effects or are unable to be dosed to a therapeutic level.

“Accurate animal models of the disease are also lacking, preventing potential treatments from being discovered or tested effectively. Professor Tobin and colleagues have made exciting progress towards addressing these issues and we are very proud to have the group associated with the University of Glasgow.

“While groups like Professor Tobin and colleagues make impressive strides in combating the disease on a medical front, it is up to the rest of us to combat it more immediately on a social front. This can take many forms, such as advocating better care at a national level, volunteering with individuals with dementia, or simply finding out what it is like to live with dementia and how we can help in our day-to-day lives.”

It is thought that it could be as long as ten years before the progress described in the report will become a practical and marketable drug.

In Scotland alone, approximately 90,000 people are living with Dementia. Of the various types, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most prevalent.

To find out more about their work or to get involved with the Dementia Society, visit https://www.facebook.com/UofGDementiaSociety/

To find out more about becoming a Dementia Friend, visit www.dementiafriendsscotland.org