While life expectations have been increasing across the globe, the time spent suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have also been increasing. In the last decade this increase has not been checked by any breakthroughs in drugs to brake the onset of, or reverse the progression of, dementia. While life expectancies are approaching 90 years, the period at the end of life with serious disability is approaching 10 years. Among the elderly there is now a greater fear of the degradations at the end of life than of the end itself.
Now, the IL-33 protein is showing the potential of actually reversing some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Injections of the protein succeeded in restoring the memory of mice which had been debilitated by an Alzheimer’s like affliction. The potential is that injections – if the protein acts in a similar way with humans – could restore the memory of Alzheimer’s patients within a week. It is hoped to start clinical trials by the end of the year and that could leave to approved drugs becoming available within 5 years.
A protein which can reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice could provide a key to potential treatments, Scottish scientists said.
Researchers from Glasgow University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) discovered that injections of the protein IL-33 could improve cognitive function in mice with Alzheimer’s-like disease. …
….. Glasgow expert Professor Eddy Liew discovered the IL-33 protein could digest existing plaque deposits and prevent the build up of new ones, which led to an improvement in memory and brain function among mice within a week. Professor Liew said: “The relevance of this finding to human Alzheimer’s is at present unclear. But there are encouraging hints. For example, previous genetic studies have shown an association between IL-33 mutations and Alzheimer’s disease in European and Chinese populations. Exciting as it is, there is some distance between laboratory findings and clinical applications.”
The IL-33 protein is produced mostly in the nervous system but patients with Alzheimer’s had less IL-33 than people without the condition, he said. The study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS), also found the IL-33 curbed the inflammation in the brain tissue, which has been shown previously to increase plaque and tangle formation.
IL-33 is made in the body and the highest concentrations are found in the brain and the spinal cord. Those with Alzheimer’s have depressed levels. Alzheimer’s disease is widely believed to be driven by the production and deposition of the β-amyloid peptide (Aβ). The IL-33 protein is thought to activate the body’s immune system which in turn attacks the β-amyloid which causes the characteristic Alzheimer’s plaque.