Common epilepsy drug could prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease

Oct 27, 2008

The team led by UBC Psychiatry Prof. Weihong Song, who is also the Jack Brown and Family Professor and Chair in Alzheimer's Disease at UBC, found that if Valproic Acid (VPA) is used as a treatment in early stages of AD memory deficit is reversed.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, reveals that VPA works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme that produces a neurotoxic protein called beta Amyloid. In doing so, plaque formation is discontinued. Amyloid beta-proteins are the central component of neurotoxic plaques in AD.

"We found that if we used VPA in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease, in model mice, it reduced plaque formation and further prevented brain cell death and axon damage," says Song, who is a Canada Research Chair in Alzheimer's disease and Director of the Townsend Family Laboratories in UBC's Faculty of Medicine. "The drug also improved performance in memory tests."

The results will help inform the design of human clinical trials because researchers now understand the mechanisms and pathology of VPA in AD animal models.

"We are very excited about these results because we now know when VPA should be administered to be most effective and we now know how VPA is working to prevent AD," says Song, who is also a member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC and VCHRI. "A small human clinical trial is currently underway and we expect results to be available in the next year."

AD is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration and is the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer Society of Canada estimates that AD affects close to 300,000 Canadians and accounts for two-thirds of all cases of dementia. By 2031, about 750,000 Canadians will suffer from AD and related dementias.

Source: University of British Columbia

Explore further: West Africa's Ebola outbreak has claimed 137 lives

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

2 hours ago

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

3 hours ago

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

6 hours ago

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.