Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that affects one’s cognitive abilities. In the most severe stages of the disease, one’s personality may also be affected and one needs assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, using the restroom, and eating. A new study indicates that a common medication may be useful for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Aging with mice. The researchers at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) gave one group of mice with Alzheimer’s the drug diazoxide in their drinking water while the control group of mice were given a placebo. All of the mice in the study were engineered to have Alzheimer’s disease. Diazoxide is a medication, which is currently utilized to treat hypoglycemia and was used in the 1970s and 1980s for the treatment of hypertension.
After eight months of treatment, the researchers discovered that the mice who had received the medication performed better in learning and memory tasks than those who received the placebo. Furthermore, upon examination of the mice brain tissue, the researchers found that diazoxide may have prevented some of the cellular changes often seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the brains of the mice who received the medication possessed better blood flow, fewer deposits of two dangerous proteins, tau and beta-amyloid, and less damage from oxidative stress.
Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D. and chief of the National Institute on Aging’s laboratory of Neurosciences located in Baltimore explains,” To better understand the complex biological mechanisms by which diazoxide may exert a positive effect on nerve cells, we then studied the effects of diazoxide on cultured nerve cells.”
Upon examination of the effects on cultured nerve cells, the scientists also discovered the medication opens channels within the cell, which allows potassium to flow. The flow of potassium calms electrical nerve cell activity in areas of the brain related to memory and learning. The medication was also found to lower excessive amounts of calcium in the nerve cells, which is often seen in individuals suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.
Richard J. Hodes, M.D. and National Institute on Aging director stated, “More research will be needed before we can determine whether this may be a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s.” However, it seems this study may lead to new, promising treatments for the disease. The scientists also note that they were able to treat the mice with a dose of diazoxide that was not high enough to lower blood pressure significantly.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition affecting cognitive abilities, such as memory, learning, and planning. If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, you may check out my article: The Progressive Nature of Alzheimer’s Disease. You may also check out the Alzheimer’s Association. If you would like to learn more about this study, you may check out the November 15, 2010 edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s Association: Stages of Alzheimer’s:
Psych Central: In Mice, Common Drug Counteracts Alzheimer’s Changes:
Associated Content: The Progressive Nature of Alzheimer’s Disease: