Experimental new Alzheimer's treatment could recover memory

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The memories of Alzheimer's patients are forgotten but not gone, to twist a popular phrase. Now, one potential new treatment might help to recover some of those lost memories. An experimental drug has the potential to recover memory and improve cognitive function if taken early in Alzheimer's development–especially when coupled with other treatments, researchers say.

Scientists at the University of California Irvine have successfully recovered the memories of mice bred to develop age-related Alzheimer's symptoms by using an experimental drug that is being tested as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. The drug, identified as PMX205, prevents inflamed immune cells from accelerating neuron damage by congregating in areas of the brain with amyloid plaques, researchers said. Amyloid plaques are one of the most common physical brain characteristics found in Alzheimer's patients.

Over the course of a 12-week study, researchers tested the mice for cognitive ability and memory retention. Mice that received PMX205 during early stages of Alzheimer's performed nearly as well as normal mice on the tests, but mice receiving no treatment performed very poorly. When the brains of the mice were examined, researchers found up to 50% fewer Alzheimer's-related pathologies in the brains of the mice receiving PMX205 treatment. The report appears in the July 15 edition of The Journal of Immunology.

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