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Rodent Testing Reveals Anti-Aging Effects from Alzheimer’s Drug

An experimental drug designed to treat Alzheimer’s Disease has created some surprising results in mice, according to Science Daily and a press release from the Salk Institute. The drug, designed to target aging in the brain, has caused unexpected physiological improvements – apparently reversing some of the damage caused by old age.

Before and after treatment with J147.
Image source: Science Daily via the Salk Institute for Biological Studies 


Most AD treatments involve attempting to tackle the build up of amyloid plaque deposits in the brains of sufferers. As the disease advances, the plaque spreads. Led by Dr Antonio Currais, researchers at the Salk Institute and the University of California San Diego identified a lack of success with this approach. As Professor David Schubert, the study’s senior author, pointed out, none of the drugs developed on this basis have “proven effective in the clinic.” They decided on a new approach that targeted the main risk factor for Alzheimer’s – aging.

Aging in the brain creates toxicities and other side effects, and is the prime risk factor for 99% of AD cases. As it stands, the most commonly used mouse model is one with the extremely rare inherited form of Alzheimer’s. The drug has already been shown to prevent and reverse memory loss in mice with this form. The Salk Institute team used a different mouse model for this study; namely, one that is characterised by rapid aging.

The drug candidate, J147, was synthesised “using cell-based screens against old age-associated brain toxicities”. The drug was given to three groups of mice, all of which were from the rapidly aging model. One group was young, one group was old, and one group was also old but were given J147 as they aged. The older mice that received the drug showed improvement on memory and cognition tests, better motor movements, and a reduction in blood leakage in the brain’s microvessels. Since the latter symptom is often particularly bad in AD cases, this is especially promising.

In addition to the effects on cognition and motor abilities, there were unexpected side effects related to aging. The gene expression and metabolism of the old mice’s brains began, in some areas, to resemble that of younger mice. They showed markers for more energy and lowered levels of oxidised fatty acids and inflammation in the brain. The mice also began to look younger.

For the moment, these effects are being treated as beneficial side effects by the researchers involved. The main aim is to tackle Alzheimer’s, something that appears to be a possibility with J147. Human trials will hopefully begin in 2016.

To read the press release from the Salk Institute, click here, or read the piece in Science Daily here. To access the study itself in Aging, click here.

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