Hope for Alzheimer’s Cure?
By Shlomo Maital
Prof. Dan Michaelson
My family physician recently told me that about half of the elderly aged 85 and over have Alzheimer’s. That should make Alzheimer’s a top priority for research money. But it is far from it.
Today’s Hebrew daily Maariv reports on a major breakthrough. Tel Aviv U. Prof. Dan Michaelson, along with his doctoral student Anat Bam-Cogan, have found a drug that can combat Alzheimer’s in mice. Here is the story:
There are apparently quite a few ‘varieties’ of Alzheimer’s, just as there are types of cancer. Michaelson notes that 413 clinical trials, that tested 244 anti-Alzheimer’s drugs over the past 13 years, all failed! Why? Maybe because Alzheimer’s is many diseases, not just one, he reasoned.
Michaelson decided to tackle one type, related to specific genes ApoE3 and ApoE4. Lab mice that have this defective gene develop Alzheimer’s. Michaelson tested the theory that the key protein that the defective ApoE4 gene makes fails to attach itself to fat cells properly, leading to the Alzheimer “plaque”. He contacted a biotech company Artery, and got from it a protein (peptide) that helps ‘stick’ fat cells to the protein. And it worked. The peptide fixed the Alzheimer’s mice’s cognitive problems and repaired the plaque in their brains.
This is still a very long way from a drug that will help, or even cure, Alzheimer’s in humans. But it is a big step in the right direction. We await more news from Dr. Michaelson, with hope.