A southern Taiwan-based National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) research
team has discovered that rapamycin, a drug as a autophagy activator is a
possible treatment to alleviating frontotemporal lobar degeneration
(FTLD), one of the mainly causes of dementia, and so far no medication
can be used.
The medical breakthrough made by the team led by Kuen-Jer Tsai,
professor of the Institute of Clinical Medicine and Institute of Basic
Medical Science, NCKU, was published in Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PNAS on
To activate autophagy, the process of self-digestion by a cell, is the
crucial discovery of the research, according to Tsai adding that
autophagy activators rescue and alleviate pathogensis of a mouse model
with protein pathies of the TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43), a
neuronal activity, which is the main syndrome of FTLD.
"The pathological and clinical syndrome of FTLD including the brain
atrophy of frontal and temporal lobe, memory loss, speechless,
neuromotor disorders, even would be complicating with motor neuron
disease," said Kuen-Jer Tsai.
In the elderly population over the age of 65, FTLD is the fourth most
common reasons of dementia, only after Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body
dementia and vascular dementia.
However, FTLD is the second common reasons of dementia just next to
Alzheimer's disease in the populations less than 65 years old, according
to the team.
Recent studies have found the mis-metabolism of a protein, which can
affect TDP-43, is correlated to several neurodegenerative diseases,
including FTLD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS.