Cancer drugs used to cure Alzheimer at Cold Spring Harbour Lab

Cancer drugs such as erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa) along with several previously untested man-made compounds were recently being used by a team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory to cure Alzheimer by focusing on the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in fruit flies and mice.

The leading scientist of the team, Dr Yi Zhong mentioned that they had used two independent experimental approaches which he considered as a "perfect target" for treating memory loss that was seen to be in later stage Alzheimer's patients with amyloid-beta (Aβ) plaques. Erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa) was observed to be able to reverse EGFR-positive cancers hence, preventing the activation of the receptor. The team had demonstrated that in Aβ-42 fruit fries that have enhanced activation of EGFRs, the memory loss condition was worsened in them. With that they started to dose the two anti-cancer EGFR inhibitors over a week's time to three-day-old Aβ-42 fruit fries and results on day 11 had shown that it can prevent memory loss. This result was reasserted when it was tested on mouse models of Alzheimer.

Dr Zhong was really impressed by the results as the parallel but independent experiment also prove that EGFR as a drug target for Alzheimer. This was conducted by Dr Zhong's collaborators in China for some 2,000 synthetic compounds against Aβ-42 fruit fries. 4 out of 45 compounds that had shown optimistic results were having positive results after being selected to be tested on mouse models. Looks like it would not be too long for the team of scientists to develop the cure soon!

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