Gas-Blockers Slow Alzheimer's in Mice

Inhibiting an enzyme boosted the rodents' survival, researchers report

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MONDAY, Oct. 31, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- An enzyme called iNOS triggers the production of nitric oxide (NO) gas that accelerates the formation of brain lesions in mice prone to Alzheimer's disease, researchers report.

This finding suggests that iNOS inhibitors -- which have already been produced and tested in humans -- may help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

The study, by researchers at Cornell University Weill Medical College, in New York City, appears in the Nov. 7 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

For nearly a decade, scientists have been aware that iNOS is present in the brain lesions of Alzheimer's patients, but so far researchers haven't examined whether the enzyme actually made the disease worse. This study found that Alzheimer's-prone mice bred to lack iNOS lived twice as long and developed fewer brain lesions than Alzheimer's-prone mice with iNOS.

While both groups of mice developed Alzheimer's disease, iNOS-deficient mice did not experience the rapid accumulation of brain lesions as they grew older.

According to the study authors, the results suggest that iNOS inhibitors may prove more effective than current treatments for Alzheimer's disease. These existing therapies temporarily improve patient performance on cognitive tests but do not increase survival.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCE: Journal of Experimental Medicine, news release, Oct. 31, 2005


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