A new trial drug may help to protect memory – even when a person’s brain has developed signs of Alzheimer’s disease, according to ongoing research.

About a quarter of all 80-year-olds with visual evidence of Alzheimer’s brain changes do not develop dementia, suggesting that the body compensates to preserve the nervous system. The new drug, called BPN14770, may be similarly protective. It appears to inhibit an enzyme that plays a key role in memory, learning, neuroinflammation and traumatic brain injury, explained researcher Ying Xu, M.D., Ph.D., University at Buffalo.

“Our new research suggests that BPN14770 may be capable of activating multiple biological mechanisms that protect the brain from memory deficits, neuronal damage and biochemical impairments,” Xu said in a statement.

The new research, conducted in mice, accompanies ongoing human clinical trials. A Phase 2 clinical trial of the drug is currently taking place, involving 255 participants with early Alzheimer’s, as well as people with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder. Full results are likely to be released mid-2020. 

Tetra Therapeutics, Grand Rapids, Michigan, is also involved in the studies.