Currently Marketed Drugs Provide New Method for Identifying Alzheimer's Disease

Two drugs currently on the market may also be beneficial as positron emission tomography radiotracers, which could possibly lead to imaging studies for the early detection of Alzheimer�s disease.

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Researchers from the International Center for Biomedicine and the University of Chile, in collaboration with the Center for Bioinformatics of the Universidad de Talca, found that the benzimidazole derivatives lanzoprazole and astemizole “specifically tag pathological oligomers of tau, which form the core of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), a pathognomonic brain lesion in Alzheimer ́s patients.” Lanzoprazole is currently approved for the treatment of proton pump disorders, while astemizole is an antihistamine.

According to the researchers, the two drugs bind directly to “aggregated variants of tau protein, paired helical filaments (PHFs) and NFTs in Alzheimer ́s brains,” but it has not yet been possible to detect these pathological brain structures in living patients; they have only ever been seen on autopsy.

in vivo

“Since neurofibrillary tangles are positively correlated with cognitive impairment, we propose that these drugs have great potential in PET neuroimaging for early detection of AD and in reducing the formation of NFTs,” commented professors Dr. R.B. Maccioni and Dr. Leonel Rojo, two authors of the study. “These studies, based on advanced proteomics and databases of molecular interactions, may help to find potential new drugs for early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The findings are the result of a long-standing research program supported by the Alzheimer’s Association-USA and Fondecyt, Chile to evaluate new drug candidates.”

Maccioni and Rojo see this discovery as an important initial step in developing new diagnostic tools for AD, tools that may be able to identify the disease, for the first time, while patients are still living.

“This important discovery will provide the stepping stone for the development of new specific neuroimaging technologies based on PET radiotracers that monitor the formation and growth of NFTs in patients during the course of their lives,” the doctors said.

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The study is also published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Two drugs currently on the market may also be beneficial as positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracers, which could possibly lead to imaging studies for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)