Researchers at the University of Minnesota's Center for Drug Design have developed a synthetic compound that, in a mouse model, successfully prevents the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer's disease.
In the pre-clinical study, researchers Robert Vince, Ph.D.; Swati More, Ph.D.; and Ashish Vartak, Ph.D., of the University's Center for Drug Design, found evidence that a lab-made compound known as psi-GSH enables the brain to use its own protective enzyme system, called glyoxalase, against the Alzheimer's disease process.
The discovery is published online in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience and presents a new target for the design of anti-Alzheimer's and related drugs.
"While most other drugs under development and on the market attempt to slow down or reverse the Alzheimer's processes, our approach strikes at a root cause by enabling the brain itself to fight the disease at a very early stage," said Vince, the study's lead researcher and director of the Center for Drug Design. "As is the case with all drug development, these studies need to be replicated in human patients before coming to any firm conclusions."
Alzheimer's has previously been found to impair the ability of the brain to use the glyoxalase system. But the compound psi-GSH provides the glyoxalase system the fuel it needs to destroy destructive oxidized sugar metabolites that - in Alzheimer's models - converts normal brain amyloid protein into the abnormal form that produces Alzheimer's.