Potential Alzheimer’s drug shows promise in mice with features of disease

02 February 2021

In early-stage research, scientists in the US have found that a potential drug compound ISRIB helps improve memory in mice with features of Alzheimer’s disease. The research is reported in Science Signalling today (Tuesday 2 February).

What did the researchers look for?

Proteins are essential for living and must continually be created throughout our lives.

When our bodies experience stress, the cells in our body react, altering the creation of new proteins.

Scientists have already found that in the brain tissue of people with Alzheimer’s disease, heightened levels of the eIF-2 protein are formed during this stress response.

Now, in this research, scientists used a compound called ISRIB to target this protein, limiting the stress response and rebalancing the creation of new proteins.

What did they find?

 In mice both with and without features of Alzheimer’s disease, ISRIB improved the creation of new proteins and performance on memory and behavioural tasks.

Our expert view:

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“With no disease-modifying dementia treatments currently available, it is critical we focus efforts on research with the potential to tackle the complex processes that cause damage to the brain and the symptoms of dementia.

“In this study, researchers found that a compound, ISRIB, helped reduce memory and behavioural problems in mice with features of Alzheimer’s. This potential drug targets a biological pathway that is also present in people, but as with all early-stage research in mice we need to see further research to know whether these findings will translate to people. The compound used in this study has its limitations as a potential drug and it will be important for drug discovery experts to explore how we could better target this pathway.

“There are promising dementia drugs already in clinical trials and while we are optimistic that one or more of these will be effective, to have the best chance of success it is crucial that we maintain a healthy pipeline of potential treatments. Research is making progress, and for the sake of all those affected by dementia it’s vital that findings like these are followed up. Alzheimer’s Research UK will continue campaigning for more investment in dementia research, while continuing to invest in initiatives like the Drug Discovery Alliance and Dementia Consortium, which are dedicated to bringing about new treatments sooner.”