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Published on: May 15, 2014
by Venkat Pulapaka for News Chanel Daily:
Early studies by American scientists suggest that a common anti-depressant drug may help to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania while conducting a study on transgenic mice and 23 people discovered that anti-depressant drug citalopram, whose brand name is Celexa, held back a protein that assists in the formation of plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
The study was conducted between 2012 and 2014 and the scientists hoped their research would assist in preventing the disease.
The scientists, meanwhile, agree that it is very early to administer the drug to Alzheimer’s patients. However, dementia charities Wednesday night welcomed the findings for giving new clues on the disease.
Researchers led by Dr Yvette Sheline, at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr John Cirrito, from Washington University School of Medicine, wrote in the journal Science Translational Medicine that a single dose of citalopram dropped the production of the brain plaque’s protein amyloid beta (AB) by at least 37 per cent.
The scientists conducted the study on healthy adults aged 18 to 50 and hoped the results could be replicated in elderly patients.
Citalopram, meanwhile, had a solid effect on elderly mice. It halted the growth of the existing plaques. It also helped in reducing the creation of new plaque deposits by at least 78 per cent.
Dr Sheline said whether citalopram leads to delaying Alzheimer’s disease in reality is a different question. However, Dr Sheline said they now have a mechanism to decrease the amyloid concentration.
The scientists later said they now wish to enrol older and healthy adults to study and see if treating them with citalopram for two weeks will help in reducing the production of AB for greater periods of time.
Dr Sheline said if the results were successful; the anti-depressant drugs may be used to slow the growth of the disease at least 15 years before it may become visible.
She also said after that a ‘big study’ across several years may look at the effectiveness of the anti-depressant drug in people compared to a placebo.
Apart from citalopram there are several anti-depressants, including Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil, which are classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Scientists are yet to discover as to what exactly causes Alzheimer’s. It is generally believed that the AB plaques trigger the disease process to take an abnormal protein, called tau, to push people towards the deadly disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a distressing neurological disorder that affects over 40 million people worldwide.
Alzheimer’s Association data says in US alone the Alzheimer’s disease afflicts 5.4 million people and one in three seniors dies due to the illness or another form of dementia.
The Association further states that the United States annually spends $183 billion to find a cure for the disease.
As of now, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Also, the current treatments only give relief of symptoms in certain cases, according to the Association.
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