A "one-size-fits-all" new class of drugs that targets a particular type of brain inflammation is showing early promise for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury.
A pre-clinical study due to be published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience shows one of the drugs stopped mice bred to have Alzheimer's from developing the full-blown disease. Northwestern has recently been issued patents to cover this new drug class and has licensed the commercial development to a biotech company that has recently completed the first human Phase 1 clinical trial for the drug.
The drugs in this class target a particular type of brain inflammation, which is a common denominator in these neurological diseases and in traumatic brain injury and stroke. This brain inflammation, also called neuroinflammation, is increasingly believed to play a major role in the progressive damage characteristic of these chronic diseases and brain injuries. By addressing brain inflammation, the new class of drugs -- represented by MW151 and MW189 -- offers an entirely different therapeutic approach to Alzheimer’s than current ones being tested to prevent the development of beta amyloid plaques in the brain. The plaques are an indicator of the disease but not a proven cause.
MW151 and MW189 work by preventing the damaging overproduction of brain proteins called proinflammatory cytokines. Scientists now believe overproduction of these proteins contributes to the development of many degenerative neurological diseases as well as to the neurological damage caused by traumatic brain injury and stroke.