Washington, July 25 (ANI): Scientists have developed a new class of drug that shows early promise of being a one-size-fits-all therapy for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury by reducing inflammation in the brain.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has recently been issued patents to cover this new drug class and has licensed the commercial development to a biotech company that has recently completed the first human Phase 1 clinical trial for the drug.
The drugs in this class target a particular type of brain inflammation, which is a common denominator in these neurological diseases and in traumatic brain injury and stroke. This brain inflammation, also called neuroinflammation, is increasingly believed to play a major role in the progressive damage characteristic of these chronic diseases and brain injuries.
By addressing brain inflammation, the new class of drugs-represented by MW151 and MW189 -- offers an entirely different therapeutic approach to Alzheimer's than current ones being tested to prevent the development of beta amyloid plaques in the brain. The plaques are an indicator of the disease but not a proven cause.
A new preclinical study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that when one of the new Northwestern drugs is given to a mouse genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer's, it prevents the development of the full-blown disease. The study, from Northwestern's Feinberg School and the University of Kentucky, identifies the optimal therapeutic time window for administering the drug, which is taken orally and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
In previous animal studies, the same drug reduced the neurological damage caused by closed-head traumatic brain injury and inhibited the development of a multiple sclerosis-like disease. In these diseases as well as in Alzheimer's, the studies show the therapy time window is critical.
MW151 and MW189 work by preventing the damaging overproduction of brain proteins called proinflammatory cytokines. Scientists now believe overproduction of these proteins contributes to the development of many degenerative neurological diseases as well as to the neurological damage caused by traumatic brain injury and stroke.
When too many of the cytokines are produced, the synapses of the brain begin to misfire. Eventually the entire organization of the brain falls into disarray, like a computer failing. The neurons lose their connections with each other and can eventually die. The resulting damage in the cortex and hippocampus can compromise memory and decision-making.
"In Alzheimer's disease, many people now view the progression from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown Alzheimer's as an indication of malfunctioning synapses, the pathways that allow neurons to talk to each other," said D. Martin Watterson, a professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry at the Feinberg School, whose lab developed the drug. He is a coauthor of the study.
Because this harmful inflammatory mechanism also appears to be a major player in other neurodegenerative disorders in addition to Alzheimer's, the class of drugs represented by MW151 might hold bright potential as co-therapies for Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, M.S. and the longer term complications of brain injury, Watterson said.
"We need more studies of therapeutic time windows in models of these other diseases so we can better plan future clinical trials," Watterson noted.
In another study, Wainwright showed MW151, when given after a traumatic brain injury, prevented the increased risk of epileptic seizures. (ANI)