A drug that has been approved for the treatment of a type of skin cancer since 1999 appears to reverse Alzheimer's symptoms -- in mice.
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine neuroscientist Gary Landreth and colleagues reported Thursday that bexarotene quickly cleared away beta-amyloid plaque, believed to cause the cognitive deficits of Alzheimer's disease, from the brains of genetically engineered mice.
Mice who received bexarotene treatment regained memory and cognitive function, including improvements in their sense of smell, the authors said. Bexarotene worked by helping to increase levels of a protein called Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), which helps remove beta-amyloids. Its effects took hold quickly, with half of plaques removed within 72 hours, the authors reported.
Still years before something for humans could hit the market. As the article notes, it's not common for there to be a 1:1 match between drugs efficacious for mice and humans.