Summary: Amyloid inhibitors, a type of Alzheimer’s drug under development, may not be as promising as once thought. A cheap and easy test early in the drug development process should help researchers focus on the most promising compounds. This finding does not apply to the vaccines being developed to clear amyloid.
If you’re one of the millions waiting for Alzheimer’s drugs now under development, you’ll want to know that researchers at the University of California, San Franciso (UCSF) have come to some interesting conclusions about one type of potential treatment. Which do you want first - the good news or the bad?
UCSF researchers Brian Shoichet, Ph. D. (left) and Robert Fletterick, Ph.D
Let’s start with the bad news. It looks like “amyloid inhibitors” may not be as promising as once thought. Some Alzheimer’s researchers are focused on developing these compounds to prevent beta amyloid proteins from clumping together to form the fibrils and plaques thought to be harmful to your brain. But as with other diseases, the trick is to find compounds that will affect only the beta amyloid “target,” without affecting other proteins your body and brain might need.
Research conducted in the lab of Brian Shoichet, a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF, suggests that amyloid inhibitors often affect too many other proteins to be safe and effective Alzheimer’s treatments. The results of his work on this topic were published in late January in Nature Chemical Biology online.