Medical College of Georgia researchers say that it may be possible to improve the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases by combining multiple drugs in a single tablet.
Dr. Jerry Buccafusco, founding director of the MCG Alzheimer's Research Center, says that medicines that are used to protect neurons can be combined with drugs that target memory, in order to make real progress in treating diseases like Alzheimer's.
"We realize that with neurodegenerative diseases there will not be one magic bullet. Developing new therapeutics will require an attack on many different levels. But, right now, there are no FDA-approved compounds out there that are significantly disease-modifying. We're at the point where we're just getting to that," Dr. Buccafusco says.
Revealing his idea in the journal NeuroTherapeutics, the researcher suggests that Alzheimer's treatment should combine molecules that protect neurons from plaque build-up with approved therapies like cholinesterase inhibitors, which treat cognition and memory loss.
He has also cited several novel drug candidates developed at the MCG Alzheimer's Research Center, including two molecules prevent cell death in the brain and improve cognition, reaction time and attention.
"What we have to do now is look at drugs that have already been developed to address very specific disease targets and come up with new ways to combine constituent groups of active molecules into a single therapeutic agent," he says.
"Drugs should target more than one particular molecular structure and molecular receptor in the central nervous system. The technology is available to design molecules that have multiple properties all in one package. This approach could represent a new frontier for pharmacology," he adds.
One of the advantages of using multi-functional medicines, according to the researchers, could be that it might lead to fewer side effects.