Treatment for dreaded dementia disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's could be on the anvil after a new drug candidate, called AL-108, has shown promise in treating the same.
Tel Aviv University researcher Prof. Illana Gozes, has said that AL-108 protect patients with mild cognitive damage against memory loss by protecting the skeleton and transport system of brain cells.
"My logic is that if you try to protect a dead cell, it won't work. We need to protect the living cell between the death sentence of having Alzheimer's and actual cell death," said Gozes.
AL-108, provides nerve cell protection, by targeting support cells in the brain known as glia, which make up the majority of cells in the brain and are those that facilitate brain repair. She believes that proteins produced by glia, and responsive to brain injury, may be able to repair the damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
In the study, the research team discovered a protein (ADNP) involved in brain repair, which if developed into a drug, would turn out to be too large to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Then, Gozes cut the protein into fragments and found out that a small portion of the protein (NAP) provides potent neuroprotection by protecting nerve cells against severe oxidative stress and the toxicity associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's. AL-108, the drug candidate under development now, is an intranasal formulation based on NAP.
She said that this event in the nerve cells of Alzheimer's brains is similar to a derailed train. The nerve cell skeleton - the microtubules - are like the rails, and a protein called "tau" functions like the ties between the rails. In Alzheimer's, the ties fall off, the tracks fall apart and nerve cells die. However, AL-108 seems to prevent this process from accelerating.
AL-108, which could be ready in as early as 5 years, targets the microtubules and protects against amyloid plaques - a characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. AL-108 may also maintain brain microtubule functioning, preventing memory loss and the deterioration of other cognitive functions, such as learning abilities, in those whose mental functioning has already started to decline.
"It's important to stress that these are drug candidates in clinical development in North America for now, and will not be ready for several years," said Gozes.
AL-108 has passed its Phase II clinical studies in U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved clinical trials. AL-108 is currently being developed by the Canada-based Allon Therapeutics Inc.
Publications reporting on the efficacy of AL-108 in animal models have appeared in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and many more.