NIH compound could reverse symptoms of Alzheimer's

While the cause of Alzheimer's disease continues to elude scientists, a new compound carries the promise of restoring memory loss and reversing the symptoms of the disease.

NIH researchers have injected the compound, a peptide called TFP5, into mice with a disease considered the equivalent of Alzheimer's in humans and found that symptoms were reversed and memory restored, without signs of toxicity, anxiety or weight loss. The findings of the study were released in the January edition of the FASEB Journal.

With so many failures in Alzheimer's treatments plaguing the biotech and pharma industries, it is still too soon to tell whether this new compound could be effective. After all, the experiment was conducted on mice, not humans, and the disease was not Alzheimer's but a similar disease that appears in rodents.

"We believe that this compound will affect the neuroinflammation that occurs in patients with Alzheimer's," said Harish C. Pant, a senior researcher involved in the work at NIH's Laboratory of Neurochemistry at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), in an interview with FierceBiotechResearch.

While Pant said he can't be sure if the compound will cure Alzheimer's, the study showed positive results for clearing amyloid tangles in mice.

TFP5 was derived from the regulator of a key brain enzyme, called Cdk5. When Cdk5 is hyperactivated, it can form plaques and tangles in the brain, which are often cited as the culprits behind Alzheimer's disease. Pant said he has applied for a patent for the new compound--a long process that can take a few years--with the hope of eventually testing it in humans.

With so many pharma companies pursuing Alzheimer's drugs, Pant said he thinks they should be interested in the compound. 

- here's the study abstract

Special Report: The Alzheimer's pipeline: What's next?