Glaucoma drug may have potential to treat Alzheimer's disease

December 9, 2016 by Margaret-Anne Orgill, University College London
Credit: University College London

A drug which is used to treat the common eye disease glaucoma may have potential as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, according to scientists at UCL.

In trials on rats, the drug brimonidine, which is routinely used to lower eye pressure in glaucoma patients, has been found to reduce the formation of in the retina, which are believed to be linked to Alzheimer's. The research was reported in the journal Cell Death and Disease.

Amyloid plaques can be seen in the retinas of people with Alzheimer's, so the researchers say the retina can be viewed as an extension of the brain that provides an opportunity to diagnose and track progression of Alzheimer's.

Scientists found that brimonidine reduces neurodegeneration of cells in the retina by cutting the levels of beta amyloid in the eye. This was achieved by using the drug to stimulate the production of an alternative non-toxic protein which does not kill .

The researchers hope that the drug will have a similar effect on the brain, although this was not tested in the current study.

"The findings of our study could not have come at a more significant and important moment, given the increased prevalence of Alzheimer's disease.  As we live longer, there will be increasing demand for therapies that can help challenge this extremely damaging and we believe that our findings can make a major contribution," said Professor Francesca Cordeiro (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) who led the study.

Explore further: 'Pac-Man' gene implicated in Alzheimer's disease

More information: Shereen Nizari et al. Non-amyloidogenic effects of α2 adrenergic agonists: implications for brimonidine-mediated neuroprotection, Cell Death and Disease (2016). DOI: 10.1038/cddis.2016.397

Related Stories

'Pac-Man' gene implicated in Alzheimer's disease

July 26, 2016
A gene that protects the brain from the harmful build-up of amyloid-beta, one of the causative proteins implicated in Alzheimer's disease, has been identified as a new target for therapy by NeuRA researchers.

Experimental drug shows promise in treating Alzheimer's disease

October 25, 2016
An experimental drug shows promise in treating Alzheimer's disease by preventing inflammation and removing abnormal protein clumps in the brain that are associated with the disease, suggests a study in mice presented at the ...

Alzheimer's detected before symptoms via new eye technology

July 11, 2016
Rockville, Md. Scientists may have overcome a major roadblock in the development of Alzheimer's therapies by creating a new technology to observe—in the back of the eye—progression of the disease before the onset of symptoms. ...

Cannabinoids remove plaque-forming Alzheimer's proteins from brain cells

June 29, 2016
Salk Institute scientists have found preliminary evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer's ...

Recommended for you

Hypothesis underpinning dementia research 'flawed'

October 16, 2018
A hypothesis which has been the standard way of explaining how the body develops Alzheimer's Disease for almost 30 years is flawed, according to a University of Manchester biologist.

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

Many cases of dementia may arise from non-inherited DNA 'spelling mistakes'

October 15, 2018
Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited—the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers ...

Scientists create new map of brain region linked to Alzheimer's disease

October 8, 2018
Curing some of the most vexing diseases first requires navigating the world's most complex structure—the human brain. So, USC scientists have created the most detailed atlas yet of the brain's memory bank.

Previously unknown genetic aberrations found to be associated with Alzheimer's progression

October 8, 2018
In a large-scale analysis of RNA from postmortem human brain tissue, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Columbia University have identified specific RNA splicing events associated with Alzheimer's ...

Periodontal disease bacteria may kick-start Alzheimer's

October 4, 2018
Long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria causes inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons in mice that is similar to the effects of Alzheimer's disease in humans, according to a new study from researchers at ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.