Alzheimer's Disease Drug Class Shows Promise

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors may prevent characteristics of cognitive diseases.

Findings from a recent study suggest potential methods to create treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related conditions using treatments previously approved by the FDA.

Although there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, researchers aim to find ways to delay the onset of symptoms to improve patients’ lives. In a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, researchers discovered that Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors (CAIs) potentially target the mechanisms thought to cause neural and vascular death characteristic of the diseases.

Mitochondrial dysfunction, a destruction of organelles that regulate energy metabolism and cell death, can cause neuronal and vascular death. It is caused by an accumulation of amyloid beta proteins that lead to plaque in the brain.

Researchers found that CAIs previously approved by the FDA can treat conditions such as glaucoma, and can target mitochondrial dysfunction.

“Therapies aimed at preventing mitochondrial failure may represent promising new strategies as we search for a cure for this devastating disease,” said lead study author Silvia Fossati, PhD.

Researchers analyzed methazolamide and acetazolamide in both cell and mouse models that both showed a buildup of amyloid-beta protein (amyloidosis).

In mouse models, these drugs were seen to improve memory, amyloid deposition, and an activation of caspase enzymes that drive cell death mechanisms in the brain, according to the study. Researchers believe that the beneficial effects of CAIs could potentially be a result of inhibiting mitochondrial dysfunction, and activates cerebral blood flow that helps reduce the amount of amyloid beta proteins in the brain.

Researchers plan to further their research in other animal models. Since these drugs have already received FDA approval for other indications, researchers concluded they could create fast-track clinical trials for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and patients who have mild cognitive impairment.