An international team of researchers has shown that a new small-molecule drug known as anle138b can restore brain function and memory in pre-clinical models of Alzheimer's disease. The drug works by stopping toxic ion flow in the brain that is known to trigger nerve cell death. Scientists envisage that this drug could also be used to treat Parkinson's (PD).

"This is the first drug molecule that can regulate memory loss by directly blocking ions from leaking through nerve cell membranes," said Ratnesh Lal, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California San Diego and co-senior author of the study. Various studies have linked Alzheimer's disease to the accumulation of two particular proteins in the brain called amyloid-beta and tau. One theory is that these protein clusters create pores in nerve cell membranes that allow ions to travel in and out uncontrollably. This would alter ion levels inside the cells and in turn trigger neuronal dysfunction and cell death.

The new drug, a small molecule called anle138b, blocks these pores from moving ions in and out of nerve cells. Anle138b attaches to both amyloid-beta and tau protein clusters and deactivates the pores created by these clusters.

The Cure Parkinson's Trust(CPT) has been supporting anle138b through pre-clinical research and regards this paper as 'good news' for PD. CPT are introducing it to the Linked Clinical Trials committee as a future therapeutic with 'considerable promise' for PD.

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