Researchers Discover Breakthrough to Prevent & Reverse Alzheimer’s

October 27, 2020

A research team led by Dr. S.R. Wayne Chen, Ph.D. at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine made an exciting breakthrough with the potential to prevent and reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the University of Calgary.

Chen’s team discovered that limiting the open time of a channel called the ryanodine receptor, which acts as a gateway to cells located in the heart and brain, reverses and prevents the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in animal models. Chen’s team also identified a drug that interrupts the disease process, explained the University of Calgary press release.

Memory loss and cognitive impairments completely disappeared in animal models after receiving the drug treatment for one month.

“The significance of identifying a clinically used drug that acts on a defined target to provide anti-Alzheimer’s disease benefits can’t be overstated,” said Chen, who is also a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. Dr. Jinjin Yao, Ph.D., a student of Chen, was the first author of the study.

The groundbreaking study was recently published in Cell Reports, a peer-reviewed journal.

Past research has shown that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease is driven by a vicious cycle of the protein amyloid β (Aβ) inducing hyperactivity at the neuron level. The mechanism behind this wasn’t fully understood nor were the effective treatments to stop the cycle until Chen’s team discovered the reversal.

Chen’s team used a portion of an existing drug primarily used for heart patients, Carvedilol, to treat mice with Alzheimer’s symptoms.

“We treated them for a month and the effect was quite amazing,” said Chen. “We couldn’t tell the drug-treated disease models and the healthy models apart.”

Dr. Wayne Chen. Image via University of Calgary

Wayne Chen is a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the CSM. Led by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Brain and Mental Health is one of six research strategies guiding the University of Calgary toward its Eyes High goals. The strategy provides a unifying direction for brain and mental health research at the university.

Feature Image via The University of Calgary

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