Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Alzheimer’s Awareness Month Delaying Alzheimer's Disease

Neurons unusually tend to divide in Alzheimer’s - the drug memantine blocks calcium entering neurons stopping them dividing

29 September 2018

Delaying Alzheimer's Disease

Damage to neurons begins years, perhaps even a decade, before people display the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Optimal treatment would halt this damage and prevent the onset of symptoms, keeping people healthy. New research shows that drug treatment can reduce neuron damage in mice before amyloid plaques develop. Neurons in the brain are unusual because they don’t typically divide to create new, daughter cells. However, in Alzheimer’s disease, neurons attempt to do just that. Mouse neurons beginning to divide are shown here, in red-blue. It's known that dividing neurons often die. This study identified that calcium drives neurons to divide when it enters through channels on their surface. These calcium channels were blocked by the drug memantine, which has already been approved for use to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms in the United States. This research suggests that memantine might one day help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

September is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Written by Deborah Oakley

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