Research that aims to rid dementia sufferers’ brains of toxins could lead to a new treatment that reverses the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
Researchers are investigating new ways to treat Alzheimer’s by targeting the blood-brain barrier, which acts as a door to the brain, and is responsible for pumping toxins in the blood away from the brain.
Dr Joseph Nicolazzo, from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, in collaboration with the University of Washington, is examining pumps at the blood-brain barrier that are known to become dysfunctional in Alzheimer’s patients.
This diminished pumping action is believed to result in a build-up of the toxin amyloid in the brain, killing nerve cells and leading to memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s.
The researchers are investigating how to get the pumps working again, to safely filter toxins out of the brain.
“Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia affecting 300,000 Australians,” Dr Nicolazzo said.
“While there are medications that can assist with memory, there is currently no cure that can reverse the disease.
“We hope that unravelling how to get the pumps working again to decrease amyloid build-up in the brain will lead to new drugs that may cure Alzheimer’s disease.”
It is believed 900,000 Australians will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease by 2050.
Dr Nicolazzo’s research is supported by a $281,500 grant awarded recently by the National Health and Medical Research Council and a further $50,000 from The Mason Foundation.