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Studies Reveal Drug May Treat Alzheimer’s-Related Tau Damage

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that can be caused by a variety of internal and external factors. One factor is a unique protein known as tau, which some researchers believe is partially responsible for many dementia-related disorders. A recent study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine has revealed a certain drug might be able to lower tau levels and prevent permanent brain damage in seniors with Alzheimer’s. 

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality at-home care. Milwaukee families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

A Closer Look at Tau

Tau is an important protein found in all human brains. In a healthy brain, tau molecules attach themselves to other brain cells to protect them. In seniors who have Alzheimer’s, tau molecules clump together and form webs known as plaques. Plaques can eventually kill brain cells and prevent the synapses from firing properly, which can result in many of the symptoms associated with dementia such as memory loss, mood swings, and difficulty solving complex problems. Doctors do not know why some brains are unable to filter and remove tau webs. 

Combating Alzheimer’s with Synthetic Molecules

Instead of attacking tau directly, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have created a molecule that targets the genes that produce tau. This molecule is now called antisense oligonucleotide, and it has recently been tested on genetically modified mice. In preliminary studies, the antisense oligonucleotide cells have reduced tau levels and even reversed some of the brain damage. 

The Methodology

To test how these synthetic molecules interact with the tau, the research team began giving small doses to mice that were exhibiting the side effects of Alzheimer’s. Over the course of three months, the mice who received the experimental treatment showed many improvements over the control group that received nothing at all. Not only did they have healthier neurons in their brains, they also lived much longer. On average, the mice that received the treatment lived 36 days longer than their counterparts. They were also much better at building nests, which indicates that their motor skills may have been enhanced during that time. 

The Future of Alzheimer’s Treatments

Oligonucleotide injections have already been approved by the FDA to treat a number of neurological disorders, including spinal muscular atrophy. Researchers are now testing these injections on humans to treat a myriad of conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to Lou Gehrig’s disease. Once the trials are complete, the results will be submitted to the FDA before they can be used by the general public. While the oligonucleotide treatments are promising, they cannot fully reverse Alzheimer’s disease. They will most likely be a single component of a much larger treatment program designed to treat all facets of the disease.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, day-to-day life can become more challenging for seniors. Milwaukee, WI, Alzheimer’s care professionals are available 24/7 to help seniors manage daily tasks like bathing, grooming, exercise, and medication reminders. At Home Care Assistance, we believe seniors with Alzheimer’s can live safely and comfortably at home with the help of compassionate and expertly trained caregivers.

If your senior loved one needs an hourly or live-in home caregiver, Milwaukee Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks. Call (414) 964-8000 to speak with a friendly Care Manager to find out about our flexible care plans.

Drug May Prevent Tau Damage Related to Alzheimer's