New Scientist article title ‘You can’t just put your fingers on it’: How to make it work article New Zealand Times article title It’s been a year since we were told that a new kind of drug can cure Alzheimer’s disease article New York Times article link A lot has changed since we heard that the most effective way to combat Alzheimer’s was to put your fingertips on it, but there’s still one thing that’s still missing from the treatment equation: a cure.
A new study published in the journal Nature suggests that our fingertips might be a more effective tool than we think.
The researchers used mice with Alzheimer’s to examine whether using fingertips might slow the progression of the disease and whether it could help people with dementia.
“We were looking at the effects of a finger on progression and whether we could reduce the progression to the point where people can go back to normal life,” said co-author Dr Sarah Kollos of the University of New Zealand in Wellington.
“The mouse model shows that if we could slow down the progression in mice that had been genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s, that we could stop them from getting worse and we could improve the chances that people with Alzheimer are going to live longer.”
In the new study, the researchers tested the efficacy of using the mice’s brains to develop a drug to slow down Alzheimer’s progression.
“One of the major hurdles we had in developing the drug was that the mice did not respond as well to the drugs we were using as well as to the standard drug treatments,” Kolloos said.
“They were just getting worse.”
But by studying the mice that were given the drug and the ones that were not, they were able to see that the drug worked.
“What we saw was that when we changed the dose of the drug, that the disease did not progress as much in the mice, and that the mouse model was able to detect that that was because it had changed the way it was doing things,” she said.
The study was done on mice that did not have the mutation that causes Alzheimer’s.
“If you have the same mutation in both mice, you can’t really do it in the same mice,” Kossos said.
Instead, the mouse models were made to use mice that also carried a mutation that had the same effect.
So, the mice were genetically engineered so that the mutated mutation was a different effect from the normal gene that produces the enzyme.
“That’s a way of having different mice in a genetic design and the mouse that has the mutated gene is going to be more susceptible to Alzheimer’s,” she explained.
This study suggests that the fingers could be an effective way of slowing the progression.
But is it a cure?
“That is a question that needs to be answered, but we’ve done the experiments on mice, we’ve looked at mice that don’t have the mutations, we haven’t looked at the mice genetically engineered and we haven