According to researchers at Temple University's School of Medicine, the popular asthma drug, Zileuton, has shown potential in treating Alzheimer’s disease. This medication works by reducing the amount of amyloid beta that develops and accumulates in the aging brain. Amyloid beta is a peptide that has been known to be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
“In previous studies, the Temple researchers discovered that 5-lipoxygenase, an enzyme long known to exist in the brain, controls the activation state of gamma secretase, another enzyme that is necessary and responsible for the final production of amyloid beta. When produced in excess, amyloid beta causes neuronal death and forms plaques in the brain. The amount of these amyloid plaques in the brain is used as a measurement of the severity of Alzheimer's.”“Zileuton (trade name ZYFLO) is an orally active inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase, and thus inhibits leukotrienes (LTB4, LTC4, LTD4, and LTE4) formation.“
Domenico Praticò and fellow researchers tested the effects of this drug on genetically engineered mice with Alzheimer's disease. Results showed that amyloid production and build-up in the brain was reduced by 50% by treating the mice with Zileuton.
Researchers are already aware of substances that can block gamma secretase’s production of amyloid, however completely eliminating a vital function may result in other health problems, such as developing cancer. “Unlike classical gamma secretase inhibitors, Zileuton only modulates the protein expression levels, which keeps some of its vital functions in tact while blocking many of its bad effects, which in this case is the development of the amyloid plaques.”
Fortunately, if clinic trials effectively demonstrate Zileuton’s ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the medication could be readily available to patients as it is already FDA-approved and on the market.
In addition, further research may uncover treatments for other untreatable diseases resulting from amyloid plaques accumulating in the brain, such as cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a neurological condition that occurs when amyloid proteins build up on the walls of the arteries in the brain, which increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke and dementia.
Asthma Drug Could Help Control or Treat Alzheimer's Disease
Cerebral amyloid angiopathy