Could a kinase inhibitor some doctors prescribe to keep blood flowing after brain surgery be used to treat neurodegeneration? New research suggests it might be worth exploring the question.
Fasudil had been shown to improve memory in rats and promote degradation of toxic tau in cultured human neurons and the eyes of fruit flies. Its mechanism appears that it inhibits the Rho-associated protein kinases ROCK1 and ROCK2 and in this way stimulates degradation of toxic tau by way of autophagy. There are no mediations approved to treat diseases of tau such as frontotemporal dementia.
Fasudil has been approved for 20 years as a vasodilator in Japan and China to prevent the cramping shut of blood vessels following brain surgery. Several research groups are studying it and related molecules as therapeutics for Alzheimer's, FTD, Parkinson's, and ALS, whereas other scientists caution about side effects. A legal dispute between the Japanese drug maker and a Swiss company have not helped its availability in North America, and its patent is about to expire. Read Amber Dance's reporting.