Decades old drug could restore cells damaged by Alzheimer’s

A drug used to treat liver disease could help to restore cells damaged by Alzheimer's.

Existing drug could treat Alzheimer’s

A drug which has been used to treat liver disease for decades could help to restore cells damaged by Alzheimer's, according to a new study.

The University of Sheffield study discovered the drug ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) improves mitochondrial dysfunction – which is known to be a causative factor for both sporadic and familial Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.

It affects around 46.8 million people worldwide and is characterised by progressive memory loss, difficulties with problem-solving, and disorientation, among other symptoms.

Mitochondria play a key role in brain cell survival, regulating energy and acting as the battery for brain cells.

Mitochondrial abnormalities have been found in many different cells from people with Alzheimer's. It is thought they are one of the earliest changes to occur in the brain cells, perhaps even before symptoms are reported by people living with the disease.

The University of Sheffield’s Dr Heather Mortiboys was excited about what the UDCA discovery meant for the future treatment of Alzheimer’s.

"For the first time in actual Alzheimer's patient tissue, this study has shown that the drug UDCA acid can boost the performance of the cells' batteries, the mitochondria,” Dr Mortiboys said.

"We also found that the drug, which is already in clinical use for liver disease, acts by changing the shape of the batteries which could tell us more about how other drugs can be beneficial in Alzheimer's.

"Most importantly we found the drug to be active in cells from people with the most common type of the devastating disease – sporadic Alzheimer's – which could mean it has potential for thousands of patients.

"As the drug is already in clinical use for liver disease, this speeds up the potential time it could take to get this drug to the clinic for patients."

The next steps could include studies in patient-derived neurons to check for protective effects or, as others have already shown UDCA to be protective in animal models of Alzheimer's disease, steps could be taken to move UDCA to clinical trials.


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


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    6th Sep 2018
    Yeah right.
    6th Sep 2018
    I wonder how many years it will be before they run tests on humans, not just animals? I'll believe in this when I see some real results!
    6th Sep 2018
    Common Side Effects of Ursodiol

    Diarrhea or constipation.
    Upset stomach, indigestion, or vomiting.
    Cough or sore throat.
    Runny nose.
    Back pain.
    Muscle or joint pain.
    Hair loss.
    6th Sep 2018
    None of these side effects would deter me from using this drug if it was shown to mitigate dementia. My fervent hope is to die in comfort, pain free and with all my marbles.
    9th Sep 2018
    Just goes to show that you will get other diseases which will then kill you slowly. All those side effects is signs your immune system is under attack, which is what happens with most pharmaceuticals.
    6th Sep 2018
    I abhor the torture on animals to provide humans with so called cures.
    go veg!
    6th Sep 2018
    I agree. We are all equal and animals should not be "used" in so many ways to benefit us. A life lived well is all we need, no matter how long it is.
    9th Sep 2018
    Billions of animals are tortured every year for human consumption, but the tide is turning, more people are embracing a wholefood plant based diet which will prevent disease, cruelty, climate change and more.
    9th Sep 2018
    Seems like a bit of a rush deal, get it quick on the market so big pharma can cash in. Try eating a low fat diet, wholefood plant based diet to reverse your health problems. Prevention is the key and cells can rejuvenate if you treat them with the right nutrients, especially minerals.
    7th Jan 2019
    Yyes I would definitely volunteer to participate in a I abilities have noticeably declined esp memory

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