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Can Cancer Medications Be Used to Treat Alzheimer’s?

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

Researchers from the Georgetown University in Virginia planned to attend the yearly Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Canada to explain their findings of how certain cancer drugs might serve as a viable treatment for the disease. Based on trials performed on laboratory mice, the chemotherapy medications known as nilotinib and pazopanib interfered with the biological and chemical processes that are responsible for the development of the debilitating disorder. Their findings could make all the difference to Milwaukee Alzheimer’s caregivers and the seniors they care for.

Under normal conditions, tau proteins found in the brain monitor and eliminate the amount of amyloid-beta proteins believed to cause Alzheimer’s. When sticky amyloid proteins accumulate, they clump together while latching onto tau proteins. The conglomeration forms the tangled plaques that disrupt and destroy neurons. Amyloid-beta increases when tau transforms into phosphorylated tau or p-tau, which ceases to act as a garbage retrieval system. Researchers learned that this event happens because of different types of enzymes known as tyrosine kinases. 

Having a better understanding of the pathology enabled scientists to consider an alternative remedy. Nilotinib and pazopanib, two medications used to treat renal cancer, were created specifically to inhibit the presence of tyrosine kinase. Along with contributing to neurodegenerative disorders, the enzyme plays an important role in malignancy development and growth. 

The research group tested their theory by administering the chemotherapy in reduced doses to the laboratory animals that were afflicted with Alzheimer’s symptoms. Within four weeks, testing and image studies revealed that the medications effectively decreased the levels of p-tau to the degree that normal tau proteins were able to return to normal function. The mice also did not experience ill side effects from being exposed to the drugs. 

Georgetown scientists have yet to start trials using human Alzheimer’s patients. Instead, the group plans on conducting further research to learn more about amyloid-beta proteins. They also want to know more about how chemotherapy drugs interact with receptors, assist in clearing proteins and reduce inflammation.

While there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are services those with AD can turn to. Home Care Assistance provides comprehensive Alzheimer’s and dementia home care in Milwaukee that helps seniors with cognitive disorders manage everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and errands. Additionally, our compassionate caregivers offer companionship and cognitive stimulation to boost both mental and emotional wellbeing. Reach out to a friendly Care Manager at (414) 964-8000 today to learn more about our services and schedule a complimentary consultation.

Can Doctors Treat Alzheimer’s with Cancer Drugs?