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Scientists develop a Drug likely to benefit people with Alzheimer’s Disease

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FILE - An image shows activity in a human brain. Scientists have developed a drug capable of sweeping away abnormal protein clumps in the brain which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. VOA

Washington, Jan 27, 2017: Scientists have developed a drug they hope will benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicts an estimated 44 million people around the world. The new compound sweeps away abnormal protein clumps in the brain which are a hallmark of the neurodegenerative disorder.

In a study reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers describe how a synthetic drug, called antisense oligoneucleotide, reduced the production and in some cases cleared clumps of tau in the brain.

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Tau bundles are one of the hallmarks of the disease, along with beta amyloid deposits, another destructive protein.

By stopping the formation of tau, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, found they could extend the lives of mice that were bred to have collections of human tau in their brains.

Lead author Sara DeVos said scientists saw an improvement in their condition.

“So these mice die earlier than normal. So when we treat with our drug, the mice live longer and we can also prevent neurons from dying. So if we give this drug, the neurons will no longer die as a result of these tau bundles,” said DeVos

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The investigators also tested the compound in monkeys and saw positive results.

FILE – Patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia are seen during a therapy session. Alzheimer’s afflicts an estimated 44 million people around the world. VOA

Human testing expected soon

Antisense oligneucleotide targets the genetic instructions for building tau. The molecule binds to messenger RNA, which carries out the DNA blueprint for life, preventing tau from being produced. The drug can be made to target RNA for destruction of any protein, said scientists.

Tim Miller, a professor of neurology at Washington University and senior author of the study, hopes the drug, developed with Ionis Pharmaceuticals, will soon be tested in humans with Alzheimer’s disease.

“The most exciting and most interesting … is to apply this to people who we presume have abnormal tau to test the hypothesis whether lowering tau in those people will be of benefit to those people,” he said.

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Other types of antisense oligoneucleotides have been approved by U.S. regulators and are being used to treat the neurodegenerative disease muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy. The compound is in clinical trials for Huntington’s disease and ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Because tau deposits are only a piece of the puzzle that causes Alzheimer’s, the investigators envision using the drug with other treatments, also in development.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which primarily strikes senior adults, leading to a decline in mental functioning and eventually death. (VOA)

Next Story

Czech Scientists Find way to Extract Water From Air

The project will be showcased at the Dubai Expo 2020, to be held between October 2020 and April 2021

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Scientists, Water, Air
A team of scientists from the Technical University in Prague have said they found a method of extracting water from air using an autonomous solar-powered system. Pixabay

A team of scientists from the Technical University in Prague have said they found a method of extracting water from air using an autonomous solar-powered system.

The first prototype of Solar Air Water Earth Resource (SAWER) has the capacity to produce 100 litres of drinking water per day anywhere on the planet, even in the desert.

The experts installed SAWER in the United Arab Emirates’ town of Sweihan, located about 70 km east of Abu Dhabi.

“It is not a revolutionary process, but an unusual one,” civil and environmental engineering professor Tomas Matuska told Efe news, adding it used dehumidifiers that are often employed in the food industry.

Matuska explained that the two-stage system consists of a desiccant that holds water molecules in its surface and then an air heater produces water vapour to be taken back to the surface.

A group of 12 scientists started the project in the Czech Republic’s capital in 2017 and created the first prototype that can be transported in two six-meter-long cargo containers.

One of the containers holds the production unit including distilled water equipment, while the second contains the accumulators to boost heat and cold processes, as well as energy control systems.

The experts installed SAWER in the United Arab Emirates’ town of Sweihan, located about 70 km east of Abu Dhabi. Pixabay

Photovoltaic modules are placed on the two containers in order to produce the energy necessary to start the process.

The movable device aims to establish timely living conditions, or to facilitate civil-military operations in inhospitable places requiring an emergency water supply.

“The test (near Abi Dhabi) will last about six months, because we want to have information with data from summer, autumn and winter,” said Matuska, who is part of the team that developed SAWER in Prague.

The device will be tested in the laboratory during this period, although Matuska said it only requires “air filter changes, water canister emptying and cleaning for the photovoltaic modules.”

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The prototype cost about 360,000 euros ($400,000), making the water extracted very expensive – $10 per litre in the first year.

The project will be showcased at the Dubai Expo 2020, to be held between October 2020 and April 2021.

“There is a great interest in our project, from the US to Australia,” Matuska said, adding: “We have signed a confidentiality agreement with a company with businesses in the Persian Gulf area.” (IANS)