A molecule similar to the popular energy drink ingredient Taurine has shown promise in clearing amyloid plaques and restoring brain function.
More than an energy boost
In early stage research, a Korean team has discovered a molecule similar to energising Taurine has the potential to treat Alzheimer's disease. The chemical, EPPS, was discovered while screening many molecules for an ability to clear the marked amyloid plaques that appear in the condition.
When they added EPPS to the drinking water in mice with Alzheimer's symptoms, they discovered it was able to clear these plaques.
“Our findings clearly support the view that aggregated amyloid-beta is the pathological culprit of Alzheimer’s disease”
Not the whole story
This all seems very exciting, but again the research was conducted on mice, and the mice had amyloid plaques injected into them. While this did produce similar detrimental effects to those seen in human Alzheimer's disease, it fails to model the entire disease. The research suggests amyloid plaques contribute to decline and loss of function, but occur as a result of another process. Clearing the plaque could potentially restore some function and protect the brain from further decline, but it wouldn't 'cure' the underlying problem. Considering there is no current treatment to delay the disease however, many teams are working on different strategies to delay progression.
“I do not believe EPPS or other amyloid clearing drug candidates will make Alzheimer patients recover their damaged brains. However, I strongly believe these drug candidates will halt the neurodegeneration and rescue patients from death”
While this is a promising compound, there are many potential strategies being explored right now to remove these amyloid plaques. Many researchers believe they are simply an effect of a deeper problem, but other routes such as antibody targeting could also prove effective. We really need to move onto human trials with candidate treatments to know whether we're on the right track or not.
Read more at The Guardian