Research Projects

Can a drug used to treat eye disease be used to restore nerve cell damage?

Awarded to:
Professor Nigel Hooper

Current award:

University of Manchester

1 March 2024 - 28 February 2027

Full project name:

Enhancing angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) activity with methazolamide as a potentially new way to treat Alzheimer’s disease






Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the build-up of faulty proteins in the brain, which lead to damage to nerve cells, and memory and thinking problems. While we have seen huge progress with new drugs that clear away these proteins, researchers are also focusing on therapies that utilise the brain’s own protective ability.

Prof Hooper and his team look at the processes involved in regulating blood pressure and how this affects the brain. A protein called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) plays an important role in protecting the nerve cells, keeping them healthy. However, in Alzheimer’s disease, ACE2 activity is reduced which means the nerve cells are less protected and become damaged.

His team will investigate whether a drug called methazolamide (MTZ) can restore the protective function of ACE2 and reverse the damage that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease.

The project will involve testing MTZ in a mouse model with features of Alzheimer’s disease and in human nerve cells made from stem cells. If MTZ increases ACE2’s protective qualities, it may restore the health of nerve cells.

Interestingly, MTZ is already used to treat eye disease and therefore has already been tested in people for its safety. The results from this project will give an indication if this medication has the potential to be used to also treat Alzheimer’s disease.

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