Heart Drugs Could Potentially Treat Alzheimer's Disease

Heart medications reduced plaque build-up in the brains of mice and has the potential to do the same in humans.

A recent study found that heart medication reduces plaque in the brain’s blood vessels in mice. These findings could potentially create a medication to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

"You should be careful not to draw any major conclusions from experimental studies, but we have certainly identified an interesting approach worth taking further," said researcher Magnus Grenegård.

Researchers discovered how protein beta-amyloid sticks to the surface of thrombocytes and results in a fast build-up of plaque, according to the study published in Science Signaling.

"Plaque causes nerve cells to die at too fast a rate, causing the symptoms indicative of Alzheimer's disease, such as memory loss," said Grenegård. "Our study is an example of solid biomedical basic research at the cell and molecular levels which points to a link that was previously unknown. What is shown is that cells in the blood may play a significant role in the development of plaque, which is found in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers used a heart drug that prevents blood clots and decreases the risk of heart attack, which reduced plaque in mice treated with the medication.

It was previously known that heart medications can slow down the process in blood vessels and now it is possible in the brain as well, according to the study.

“In deep structures of the brain, where certain memory functions are controlled, there was a clear trend of reduced plaque presence,” researchers concluded. "We do not know if this is transferrable to humans; if the effect would be the same. To find out, new follow-up studies are required. Unfortunately, this is a lengthy process -- it will be years before we know. But at least we have identified a new, interesting approach with respect to plaque formation."