Lead researcher Weihong Song, the Jack Brown and Family Professor and Chair in Alzheimer's Disease at UBC, has found that VPA works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme that produces a neurotoxic protein called beta Amyloid, in turn discontinuing plaque formation.
Writing about the new findings in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the research team highlighted the fact that amyloid beta-proteins are the central component of neurotoxic plaques in AD.
"We found that if we used VPA in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease, in model mice, it reduced plaque formation and further prevented brain cell death and axon damage. The drug also improved performance in memory tests," says Song, who is a Canada Research Chair in Alzheimer's disease and Director of the Townsend Family Laboratories in UBC's Faculty of Medicine.
The researchers believe that their findings might help inform the design of human clinical trials, as scientists these days understand the mechanisms and pathology of VPA in AD animal models.
"We are very excited about these results because we now know when VPA should be administered to be most effective and we now know how VPA is working to prevent AD. A small human clinical trial is currently underway and we expect results to be available in the next year," says Song, who is also a member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC and VCHRI.