Two new studies show progress toward producing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and discovering its causes.
A new study from the Yale School of Medicine has announced a major step forward in the push to find a drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Yale researchers have created a drug that reverses cognitive defects caused by Alzheimer’s disease in mice.
The drug inhibits the activity of a protein known as STEP, which is highly associated with a number of degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s. For years, researchers have been trying to discover a drug that would inhibit STEP activity in the brain.
The authors of the Yale study caution that what works for mice does not always work for humans, but they are encouraged nonetheless. The lead researcher, Dr. Paul Lombroso, told Newsweek that it was not only exciting to discover a drug that inhibits STEP, but also to realize that the inhibition of STEP activity may be enough to reverse the course of Alzheimer’s.
The New York Times has taken note of another new study suggesting a strong link between vitamin D levels and Alzheimer’s and dementia risk. According to the new study, those with low levels of vitamin D are more than 50 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and those with very low levels of vitamin D were two times again more likely.
The study does not show vitamin D deficiency to be a cause of degenerative brain disease, so as of now, vitamin D supplements have not been shown to have a preventative effect. Nonetheless, this discovery will help researchers get closer to the underlying conditions that give rise to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.