Repurposing Cancer Drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, more than five million adults over the age of 65 are afflicted by the disease. Recent research equipped scientists with the knowledge concerning the biological conditions that cause the cognitive disorder. However, scientists from Georgetown University Medical Center found a way to interfere with the process using medications generally prescribed for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. Here is what their findings mean for seniors and Centennial Alzheimer’s care providers.

Alzheimer’s Formation

Under normal circumstances, tau proteins serve to eliminate amyloid beta proteins in the brain, which have a tendency to stick and clump together forming plaques. Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases develop when tau abnormally changes to become phosphorylated or p-tau. Amyloid-beta proteins accumulate, adhere to neurons and damage or destroy the cells. Research into the pathology that causes Alzheimer’s led to the discovery that tyrosine kinase plays a major role in altering tau proteins. 

Cancer Drug Correlation

The cancer drugs Pazopanib and Nilotinib inhibit the release of tyrosine kinase. The scientists administered one or the other of the medications to laboratory animals that demonstrated the tau alterations and accumulated amyloid beta plaques seen in human Alzheimer’s patients. The medications penetrated the blood-brain barrier and successfully reduced the levels of p-tau, reduced inflammation levels and enabled the healthy proteins to effectively return to removing the amyloid beta clumps. An additional benefit of using the cancer drugs to treat Alzheimer’s is the fact that the animals only needed half the dose that is normally required to treat renal cancer. As such, the animals suffered no ill effects such as nausea or vomiting. 

Studies Continue

The scientists led by Dr. Charbel Moussa plan to further their research in order to learn more about tyrosine kinase inhibitors effects on the conditions that cause Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The group is particularly interested in finding if the chemotherapy agents have any direct effect on amyloid beta. They also desire to learn the specific receptors affected by the drugs. By gaining a better understanding of how the drugs work on nerve tissue, researchers hope to discover the means to reverse other neurodegenerative diseases and give hope to Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in Centennial.

While researchers work to find an effective cure for Alzheimer’s disease, seniors with the disease have other resources to turn to. Home Care Assistance is the leading provider of senior home care in Centennial, CO, and provides specialized services for those with cognitive disorders. Our experienced caregivers are expertly trained in the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), our proprietary program that uses a series of activities to boost mental function and delay the onset of dementia. Call 303.957.3100 today to learn more about CTM and schedule a free in-home consultation.