CLEVELAND -- Research being done in Cleveland may lead to a drug to treat people with Alzheimer's Disease. While it is not being looked at as a cure, it is hoped the potential drug will help slow down the progression of the fatal, brain disease.
About five million Americans now suffer with Alzheimer's. The predominantly age-related disease slowly robs one's memory and thinking skills.
Dr. David Brown with Cleveland Clinic Anesthesiology Institute said the effects of Alzheimer's are irreversible.
"That results from some inflammation in the brain that leads to plaqueing with specific proteins that end up in a sense short circuiting part of the brain," said Brown.
Brown is among Cleveland Clinic researchers looking at how inflammation in the brain and nerve pain affects the progression of Alzheimer's. The research involves a compound known as MDA-7.
"It was originally designed for breast cancer patients -- to minimize women's discomfort with the neural injury that they sometimes get from the chemo from breast cancer," added Brown.
Researcher Dr. Mohamed Naguib thought if MDA-7 could help breast cancer patients, perhaps its anti-inflammatory properties could have a similar effect on the brain of an Alzheimer's patient.
Naguib said it is hoped that MDA-7 could slow down the devastating effects of the disease.
"Hopefully, our hypothesis is that if administered well in advance before the development of the disease, we can retard the development of the disease itself. Or, hopefully, we can minimize it."
The research is now being done on animals, but with increased funding and FDA approval, the Cleveland Clinic researcher hope the MDA-7 compound could be tested on Alzheimer's patients.
Brown said the research has been called promising and that the MDA-7 compound actually does seem to minimize the problems associated with Alzheimer's disease.
"If you could give back those years for our seasoned folks or family members," said Brown. "What a blessing that would be."