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Drugs shown to stop and even reverse Alzheimer's in mice


May 22, 2013

New hope could be on the way in the search for a treatment for Alzheimer's disease (Image: Shutterstock)

New hope could be on the way in the search for a treatment for Alzheimer's disease (Image: Shutterstock)

Although no one is announcing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease just yet, research recently conducted at the University of Southern California does at least offer a glimmer of hope. Using drugs known as TSPO (translocator protein) ligands, scientists there have successfully halted and even reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s in mice.

The mice, all of which were male, had been genetically engineered to develop the disease. The drugs were tested on both 7-month-old young adult mice and 24-month-old elderly mice. Because the TSPO ligands increase production of steroid hormones, it was important that the animals’ existing testosterone levels be kept low before beginning the treatment. While this had already occurred naturally with the older mice as a result of aging, the younger ones had to be castrated in order to bring their levels down.

After receiving once-a-week treatments for four weeks, all of the mice showed improvements. This was particularly noteworthy with the older mice, as their Alzheimer’s had become quite severe. After the four treatments, however, they showed “significant lowering of Alzheimer’s-related pathology and improvements in memory behavior.”

It’s already known that TSPO ligands help protect nerve cells by reducing inflammation, and that they increase the production of neuroactive hormones in the brain. The scientists now plan on determining which factor plays more of a part in the success with the mice, then developing new TSPO ligands designed around those findings.

“From the optimistic perspective, our data provide very promising findings with tangible potential benefits for both the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s,” said lead scientist Prof. Christian Pike. “On the pessimistic side, research scientists have developed many interventions that cured Alzheimer’s in mice but have failed to show significant benefits in humans. A critical direction we are currently pursuing is successfully translating these findings into humans.”

A paper on the research was recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Source: University of Southern California

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Wow, if the keep up this excellent research, we are shortly going to have the most healthy mice in history! ;-) Alzheimers, Cancer, Heart disease, etc.... no problem for a mouse!


Cannabis has been shown to be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's. However, the Feds keep it illegal to protect Big Pharma from unpatentable competition.


If I get Alzheimers and want this treatment do I need to be castrated first?

Gregory Gannotti

Great if it pan out in male humans! Prevents both AD and boosts testosterone as a bonus or in younger folk, the primary reason for taking a ligand drug.


I hope the same progress will be done with COPD because both illness make quality of life unbearable.

Ahmad Turk

Researchers in Europe and S.America showed that a special combination of natural ingredients was reversing dementia and Alzheimer's in even late stages. It worked..but when the drug makers found out that all the ingredients were natural and they could not profit off the diet they dropped the researchers.


Gluten may be the cause of Alzheimer's. If so prevention may be easier than curing it.

Layne Nelson
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