A key cause for Alzheimer’s might be deprivation of an amino acid called arginine. The finding published by the Journal of Neuroscience has the potential of ushering new treatment strategies to fight the debilitating illness. In the course of their work on the immune system, researchers at the Duke University found that during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, cells designed to protect the brain from infection consume arginine– uncharacteristically.
“Our approach is a significant step in the direction of unveiling the causes and new ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease,” said senior author Dr Carol Colton. With a drug called difluoromethylornithine, which is used to treat cancer, the team succeeded in blocking the arginine consumption process. However, the scientists admitted that would need to eventually find a more suitable agent.
Based on trials on mice which performed remarkably after the treatment, Cotton said that, “The response is favorable. We are cautiously optimistic.” Next in line for the tests would be older mice with an advanced form of Alzheimer’s.