While there has been progress made in the fight against Alzheimer's, our understanding of the dispiriting disease remains somewhat limited, with a definitive cure yet to be found. The latest development comes at the hands of researchers from Yale's School of Medicine, who have discovered a new drug compound shown to reverse the effects of Alzheimer's in mice.

The team's research centers on a protein in the brain called STtriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP). While STEP is essential to regulating learning and memory, high levels prevent the strengthening of synapses in the brain. This synaptic strengthening is necessary for people to convert short-term memories into long-term memories, therefore disruption of the process can lead to a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's.

The scientists studied thousands of molecules in search of one that would inhibit the negative effects of STEP. They identified the compound TC-2153 and proceeded to examine its efficacy in curtailing the impacts of STEP, observing a reversal of deficits in a number of cognitive exercises, including the mouse's ability to remember objects it had seen previously.

“A single dose of the drug results in improved cognitive function in mice," says Dr Paul Lombroso, professor in the Yale Child Study Center and lead author of the study. "Animals treated with TC compound were indistinguishable from a control group in several cognitive tasks.”

The team is now investigating the effects of TC-2153 in rats and non-human primates with cognitive defects to determine whether the compound is effective at improving cognitive deficits in other animal models. If the testing proves successful, the team says it will bring them one step closer to human trials.

The research findings were published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Source: Yale University