A class of widely used anesthetics spurs production of beta amyloid in the brains of mice, according to a study completed at the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers studied halothane, one in a class of volatile anesthetics used on 60 million people a year. A common side effect of these anesthetics is 'post-operative cognitive decline' that can last from days to years. If the drugs also promote beta amyloid in the brains of humans, it could provide a direct link to Alzheimer's. While there is no conclusive proof that beta amyloid causes Alzheimer's, the presence of brain plaque is a common feature of the disease. Researchers in the field have been pushing an array of drug development programs that target beta amyloid.
- here's the report on the study from Nature