UAMS researchers discover potential drug to prevent Alzheimer’s

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences research team has announced finding a new drug to potentially prevent Alzheimer’s in people who are genetically pre-disposed to the disease.

The team’s findings were published on Jan. 8 in the Communications Biology journal. The research included discoveries of a drug made by UAMS researcher Meenakshisundaram Balasubramaniam, the paper’s first author.

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The drug targets the so-called Alzheimer’s gene, present in about 50-65% of people affected by the disease. Researchers said the gene is inherited from one or both parents.

Lead researcher in the project, UAMS professor Sue Griffin, said the team that published this study was also the first in 2018 to show how that gene affected people by not allowing their brain cells to dispose of waste products.

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Griffin’s team is continuing its work with a recent five-year, $2.35 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The team will conduct larger-scale preclinical research on the drug candidate provided by Balasubramaniam as well as test other potential drug candidates.

A provisional patent has been applied to the drug, with full patent approval pending, researchers said.

Griffin said the hope is that one day people infected with the gene will be able to take the drug regularly in order to reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

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A December report from the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advisory Council said that over 58,000 Arkansans over the age of 65 currently have Alzheimer’s, with an additional nearly 10,000 expected to be affected by 2025.

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