Scientists Discover Possible Treatment For Alzheimer's Disease In Asthma Drug

Researchers at Temple University's School of Medicine have reported the results of their experiments using an asthma drug, Zileuton, in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease in mouse models.  Their discoveries may lead to a major breakthrough in the control and/or treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

In previous studies, Temple researchers found that an enzyme in the brain called 5-lipoxygenase is what activates gamma secretase, the enzyme responsible for the production of amyloid beta - the protein in the brain that, if over-produced, leads to the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.


MRI scans show images of amyloid plaques in rabbit model: image via healthinformer.netMRI scans show images of amyloid plaques in rabbit model: image via 


In the current study, the same researchers attempted to reduce the production of 5-lipoxygenase in a mouse model, using the drug Zileuton (marketed as Zyflo) to pharmacologically intervene in its production, thereby reducing the production of gamma secretase and subsequently the production of amyloid beta.  The results were very positive, reducing gamma secretase’s production of amyloid beta and the subsequent build up of amyloid plaques in the brain by more than 50 percent.  

The Temple Medical School team have been working with researchers in Temple's Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research to create new drugs to inhibit 5-lipoxygenase activity in the brain, specifically to avoid its contribution to the growth of amyloid plaque. But lead researcher, pharmacology professor Domenico Praticò sees an advantage in moving ahead with Zileuton.

“This drug is already on the market and, most importantly, is already FDA-approved, so you don’t need to go through an intense drug discovery process,” said Praticò. “So we could quickly begin a clinical trial to determine if there is a new application for this drug against a disease where there is currently nothing."

The complete research report is published and available to read online: “Pharmacologic Blockade of 5-Lipoxygenase Improves the Amyloidotic Phenotype of an AD Transgenic Mouse Model,” in the American Journal of Pathology.


Temple University via EurekAlert