Medical Moment: Personalized drug treatment may reverse Alzheimer’s, research says

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 5:33 PM EST
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(WNDU) - The Alzheimer’s epidemic continues to cast a shadow over the lives of millions of Americans.

With no effective treatment currently available, the devastating disease relentlessly destroys the minds of its victims.

John Struckhoff has watched his wife of 50 years fade away. There’s been very little help for patients like Lynn until now.

“There have been several new drugs recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating Alzheimer’s disease. What these do is to attack the amyloid deposits that occur in the brains of these people and reduce them and slow the decline, but they don’t reverse the disease,” said Dr. Huntington Potter, a neurologist at the University of Colorado.

Potter says a team at the University of Colorado found the drug called GM-CSF already approved for rheumatoid arthritis, and it actually reversed Alzheimer’s.

“Not only do they get cognitively better, but the blood biomarkers of brain damage that are used to test drugs for Alzheimer’s disease all improved,” Potter explained.

Their newest study focuses on finding drugs that block the effects of a protein known as APOE4, a protein that significantly increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Two commonly used psychiatric drugs, Imipramine and Olanzapine, had a significant impact by blocking the ability of APOE4 to promote amyloid formation.

“It isn’t just that they declined more slowly; they actually got better,” Potter said.

Possibly opening the door for new, more personalized care.

The next step in the research is to find out how age and gender contribute to Alzheimer’s disease in hopes of developing drugs that can reverse underlying problems.