CLEVELAND (WOIO) - Most of us, sadly, have had some experience with someone suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Doctors have been working for years trying to find a way to prevent or reverse the disease.
Now a Cleveland Clinic researcher may have unlocked the next key step in moving that research forward.
Dr. Riqiang Yan had his Alzheimer's study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Yan focused his study on the reducing the level of the enzyme BACE1 that forms in the brain as a protein and also contributes to the formation of Amyloid plaques in the brain which researchers believe is the cause of Alzheimer's disease. His experiment used mice bred to be predisposed to Alzheimer's and to produce less of the BACE1 enzyme as they age.
"We observed the existing Amyloid plaque are removed, this obviously is very important because we've never seen that before," Yan said.
Yan said that tells him that the effects of Alzheimer's could be reversed and his research also showed that the gradual depletion of the BACE1 enzyme, suppressing the buildup of Amyloid plaque, may be a preventative measure.
"Those Amyloid plaque formations slowed compared to those without any deletion so actually it is telling us it can be a preventative thing as well," he said.
The next step according to Dr. Yan says is to develop a compound that mimics the actions of his experiment that would slowly reduce the production of the BACE1 enzyme in humans.
There are four clinical trials underway right now that focus on reducing Amyloid plaque in Alzheimer patients, Dr. Yan believes his research is telling in the parameters of those trials.
"We're really trying to assure the Pharmaceutical companies that they are on the right track," he said.