Work done at Leicester has helped to identify a new drug target for not only improving symptoms of brain degeneration – but also to extend the life-span of the terminally ill mice.
The four-year study by Medical Research Council (MRC) scientists based at the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study was led by Professor Andrew Tobin alongside colleagues from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company and the Monash Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences in Australia. The project was also partly supported by the Wellcome Trust.
Corresponding author Professor Tobin, who alongside the lead researcher Dr Sophie Bradley has since moved from the University of Leicester to the University of Glasgow, 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 been using mice whose brain cells are progressively dying, similar to what happens in Alzheimer’s disease. This project focuses on a particular protein in the brain, which is proposed to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease, and as such could be a potential target for new drugs.
“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.”