A drug commonly used to treat asthma could help control or treat Alzheimer’s disease. The tablet which is used to prevent chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing due to asthma has now been shown to help reduce the formation of amyloid beta – a brain peptide implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from Temple University’s School of Medicine just published their findings in the American Journal of Pathology. The study, led by Domenico Praticò, associate professor of pharmacology, tested Zyflo® (Zileuton), which is currently approved for the prophylaxis and chronic treatment of asthma in adults and children 12 years of age and older.
Using a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease they found that Zyflo, reduced production of amyloid beta and the subsequent build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain by more than 50%.
In previous studies, Temple University researchers discovered that 5-lipoxygenase, a brain enzyme, controls the activation of gamma secretase, another enzyme responsible for the production of amyloid beta. Gamma secretase is present throughout the body and, despite its role in the development of amyloid plaques, plays a significant role in numerous important functions. Direct inhibitors of gamma secretase are already known, but blocking the enzyme completely may cause problems such as the development of cancer.
Unlike classical gamma secretase inhibitors, Zileuton only modulates the protein expression levels, which keeps some of its vital functions intact while blocking many of its bad effects – in this case, the development of the amyloid plaques.
Because Zileuton is already FDA approved, it should be able to advance to clinical trials for the Alzheimer’s indication relatively easily.
SRxA’s Word on Health will keep you informed of all developments.