London: Advancing the fight against Alzheimer's disease, scientists have in a breakthrough study, identified a new drug target that could not only improve symptoms of brain degeneration, but also extend the life-span in terminally ill mice.
The study describes drug-like molecules that can restore memory loss and slow progression of prion neuro-degenerative disease in a manner that relates to the potential of these drugs in human Alzheimer's disease.
"Our study opens up avenues for researchers to look at new drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's and also slow disease progression," said Andrew Tobin, Professor at University of Leicester in Britain.
The findings revealed a novel class of drugs called allosteric ligands that target the M1 muscarinic receptor -- a protein -- which is present in the brain.
"Activating this receptor protein can not only improve cognitive function in mice with progressive brain degeneration, but when administered daily, can extend life span," added Andrew Tobin, Professor at the University of Glasgow in Britain.
Drugs which activate this protein receptor in the brain have previously been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease and showed positive results with respect to improving cognition, but the patients experienced a large number of adverse side effects.
However, this new class of drug is more selective and does not cause any side-effects when administered to mice, the researchers stated.
"This study may provide important information as to whether this protein is a viable drug target in the treatment of diseases associated with the progressive death of brain cells," Tobin said.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.