New hope for treatment to slow neurodegenerative disease 

New hope for treatment to slow neurodegenerative disease 
© iStock/Sean Anthony Eddy

Scientists have discovered a new drug treatment that could slow neurodegenerative disease, offering fresh hope.  

The new study featuring researchers from the University of Glasgow’s new Advanced Research Centre (ARC) and published in Science Signaling, found that by using a novel drug, which selectively activates a brain protein called the M1-receptor, the life span of mice with the neurodegenerative disease could be extended. The M1-receptor is a key brain protein, involved in memory and learning in people, and is an important target for neurodegeneration. 

Professor Andrew Tobin, Director of the ARC and Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow, said: “The world desperately needs clues as to how to stop neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease – and our study is of critical importance as we show that many of the features of the disease seen in our animal model can be halted by our drug treatment.”  

Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of people worldwide

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of neurodegenerative disease, which affects around 850,000 people in the UK and over 55 million worldwide.  

The study provides new hope for sufferers of neurodegeneration and shows how many features of human Alzheimer’s disease, including memory loss, could be treated in mice when allocated the new drug. The breakthrough showcases that the drug treatment can treat symptoms and also slow the overall progression of neurodegenerative disease. 

Alzheimer’s disease treatment options can only target symptoms, including memory impairment. Despite recent efforts from professionals around the world, attempts to develop a drug that can stop or slow the progression of the disease have been limited. However, the new developments from the University of Glasgow could lead to a new drug treatment that will revolutionise neurodegenerative disease.  

M1-PAM could revolutionise Alzheimer’s disease

The drug was developed following over a decade of research from teams at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and the University of Glasgow. The Vanderbilt University team are testing M1-PAM in humans for memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. The first evidence indicates the drug could slow down the progression of the disease.  

Professor Craig Lindsley, the lead scientist at Vanderbilt University said: “This is a very important moment, as we genuinely have the prospect of not only treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including memory loss, but that we might actually be able to slow the disease and increase the lifespan of sufferers from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.” 

Dr Louis Dwomoh, the lead author of the study from the University of Glasgow, adds: “It is a huge privilege to be involved in a study that provides hope for a treatment that may halt Alzheimer’s disease. The findings mark a substantial step forward in a potential treatment for this terrible disease.” 

Dr Sophie Bradley, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow and co-corresponding author of the paper, said: “This study adds further support to the rationale for targeting M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and raises the possibility that this target may mediate disease modifying effects in addition to improving symptoms associated with the disease.” 

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