New research shows promise for Alzheimer's disease treatment

21 September 2006

Promising new research shows a common link between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. Studies have shown that blood vessels derived from the brain of people with Alzheimer's disease secrete inflammatory proteins and that these proteins are also implicated in angiogenesis or the ability to form new blood vessels.

The current study, "Angiogenic proteins are expressed by brain blood vessels in Alzheimer's disease," is published in the September issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Paula Grammas, Ph.D., executive director of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Garrison Institute on Aging and senior author of the study, found that blood vessels from Alzheimer's - diseased brains, but not controls, expressed high levels of angiogenic factors.

These results, as well as her previously published work, have led to the idea that in response to a persistent stimulus, or injury, brain endothelial cells in the blood vessel wall become activated and perhaps "stuck" in the angiogenic mode.

"This gives us new and hopefully valuable information as to how we may possibly intervene therapeutically as previous studies suggest that some drugs are beneficial to inhibit angiogenesis," Grammas said.

If future research continues to demonstrate a causal link between the angiogenic events and Alzheimer's disease progression, that would argue strongly for a new therapeutic approach for this disease.

Grammas said the results are exciting because the angiogenic brain endothelial cells are a novel, unexplored therapeutic target, and several antiangiogenic drugs are currently in use in Phase III clinical trials. Thus, clinical studies with angiogenesis inhibitors could be rapidly designed and implemented in Alzheimer's patients.

"This research adds to the body of work by scientists linking cardiovascular health and Alzheimer's disease," Grammas said. "Hopefully future clinical trials with therapeutic targets based on this research may improve the quality of life for Alzheimer's patients and their families."

The article appears in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Volume 10:1 (, Sept. 2006, published by IOS Press.

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