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Anti-cancer drug viewed as possible Alzheimer's treatment doesn't work in UF study
Date:5/23/2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. An anti-cancer drug about to be tested in a clinical trial by a biomedical company in Ohio as a possible treatment for Alzheimer's disease has failed to work with the same type of brain plaques that plague Alzheimer's patients, according to results of a study by University of Florida researchers.

David Borchelt, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience affiliated with the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida, emphasized the importance of verifying promising research results before investing in clinical studies or testing potential therapies in people. Bexarotene has known side effects that include effects on the liver, blood and other metabolic systems.

"We wanted to repeat the study to see if we could build on it, and we couldn't," he said. "We thought it was important that something like this, which got a lot of publicity and patients were immediately looking to try to get access to this drug, that it was important to publish the fact that we couldn't reproduce the most exciting part of the study. Maybe there should be some caution going forward in regard to patients."

Borchelt and Kevin Felsenstein, Ph.D., an associate professor of neuroscience, said a drug called bexarotene that their team orally administered to mice did not reduce amyloid plaques, waxy buildups on the brain that are a key culprit in Alzheimer's disease. Their findings will be published in the May 24, 2013 issue of the journal Science magazine, with two additional articles detailing similar results from other researchers.

The research follows up on a 2012 Science article that claimed bexarotene had reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice afflicted with the plaques. Authors of that study also administered the drug orally.

The paper "indicated that with as little as three days of treatment, they basically cleared the amyloid deposits from these animals, as well as restored cogn
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Contact: Rossana Passaniti
passar@shands.ufl.edu
352-273-8569
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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