A study recently found specific receptors that can bind with the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the hippocampus. The binding of acetylcholine with the receptor led to re-route the information passing through the memory circuits, causing memory enhancement. Researchers published this study in the scientific journal Nature Communications. Additionally, they were in collaboration with their fellows from the internationally recognized biopharmaceutical company Sosei Heptares.
The study could advance the treatment of several brain disorders
Acetylcholine is essential to acquire new memories. This chemical releases into the brain while learning.
Researchers at the University of Bristol discover some specific drug targets that encode memories. Furthermore, they identified these targets in the neural circuits that open the door for significant advancements in treating a range of brain disorders.
Targeting specific receptors for memory enhancement
Acetylcholine plays a significant role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. That is why, to date, every effective treatment to manage memory or cognitive impairment symptoms uses those drugs that can promote acetylcholine on a large scale. However, this Alzheimer’s treatment also has several adverse side effects. The findings of this study discovered a promising treatment that can specifically target receptors responsible for memory impairment. This drug also provides potential positive impacts along with avoiding adverse side effects.
Identifying several central processes involving memory encoding
Jack Mellor was the lead author of this study. He is a professor at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Synaptic Plasticity. He said that the findings in this study talk about the major processes occurring in the brain while storing memory. In addition, it further insights into how our brain regulates these processes through the specific receptor proteins targeted by the therapeutic drugs.
In short, identifying these specific drug target receptor proteins opens up opportunities and possibilities of new drug discovery for the treatments for Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and other neurological conditions with cognitive impairments. The partnership of the academic to the industry is essential for these discoveries. Researchers are looking forward to continuing their work together on these projects.
Beneficial for developing new and effective Alzheimer’s treatment
Chief Scientific Officer of Sosei Heptares, Dr. Miles Congreve, said that the findings of this significant research have helped scientists design and select new, effective, and highly targeted therapeutic agents. These agents will be the imitator of the effects of acetylcholine on specific muscarinic receptors that help memory enhancement. The best thing is that it would not have undesirable side effects of less targeted and earlier treatments. Additionally, this treatment option can improve cognitive function and memory in patients with Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.
Scientists willing to know about how the brain arranges information
According to Professor Mellor, the most exciting thing is how the brain arranges different parts of information. He is also willing to know what the brain needs to encode in memory. To the best of our knowledge, understanding the mechanisms through which the brain extracts things are too important for scientists. But, unfortunately, at this time, they have very little data about how these processes work. However, the goals of the upcoming study are to plan future work for finding how the brain combines acetylcholine in tandem with other neurotransmitters, including noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.
Alzheimer’s treatments: What is the future possibility?
Currently, no treatment is available for permanent memory enhancement for Alzheimer’s symptoms. The common symptoms include problems with reasoning and thinking and memory loss.
These Alzheimer’s treatments work by improving the effect of chemicals in the brain. These chemicals transmit information from neuron to neuron. However, these treatments can not slow down neurons’ primary decline and death or promote memory enhancement. Once the number of dead cells increases, Alzheimer’s disease goes worse.
But, scientists are thoughtfully encouraged to develop effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease that significantly delay the progression of Alzheimer’s and discontinue the death of neurons. An emerging understanding of how Alzheimer’s interrupts neurons has led to the possible treatments for this disease. These potential treatments are primarily based on the processes of the short-circuit disease.
Furthermore, effective treatment for Alzheimer’s may include a combination of more than a single drug, just like the treatments for HIV/AIDS or cancers.
Current treatment options for Alzheimer’s are as follows that strategies are being under review:
Modern Alzheimer’s treatments under the developmental stage often target microscopic plaques of the beta-amyloid protein. This protein is a characteristic marker for Alzheimer’s disease.
Strategies designed for beta-amyloid include:
1. Employing the immune system:
Several monoclonal antibodies may remove already formed beta-amyloid plaques or prevent them from being created. Sometimes these drugs may also help the body remove beta-amyloid protein from the brain not to form plaques.
Monoclonal antibodies are the drugs that mimic the naturally produced antibodies by the body’s immune system. These antibodies release as a response to vaccines or foreign invaders so that the body can fight the disease.
FDA has approved aducanumab in June 2021 for the treatment of a few conditions of Alzheimer’s disease. This drug targets and removes already formed amyloid plaques in the brain. However, further studies are underway to confirm the benefits of this drug and which patients will be most affected by this drug.
Another monoclonal antibody, lecanemab, also has promising effects on eliminating amyloid from the brain. This drug is currently under phase 3 clinical trials.
Besides, Donanemab is another effective drug that has completed the phase 2 trials, and now it is moving into phase 3.
2. Preventing damage
Saracatinib is a drug established initially for cancer treatment, but now, researchers are testing this drug for Alzheimer’s disease.
During the in vivo studies, this drug turned off a protein in mice. That protein allows synapses to work again. As a result, animals showed a reversal of some part of memory loss or memory enhancement. However, human trials on this drug as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment are now ongoing.
3. Forming new blockers
These therapies help cut the beta-amyloid quantity in the brain. Past studies have shown that some “parent protein” involves the production of beta-amyloid that forms in two steps with the help of different enzymes.
Gamma- and beta-secretase inhibitors are the experimental drugs designed to block the activity of these enzymes. Recently, a study revealed that the beta-secretase inhibitors could not reduce cognitive decline and had significant side effects for mild or moderate Alzheimer’s. Thus, it would not be a treatment option for Alzheimer’s
Preventing tau from tangling
Tangles are microscopic fibers. Tau (protein) twisting into tangles due to collapsing the transport system of brain cells results in a common brain disorder of Alzheimer’s. So scientists are trying to inhibit tau from making tangles.
Tau vaccines and tau aggregation inhibitors are two currently underway treatment options that are at the clinical trials.
Cutting down inflammation
Alzheimer’s turns into low-grade, chronic inflammation of the brain cells. Researchers are currently studying the new and effective methods to reduce inflammatory processes in Alzheimer’s disease. Now, the sargramostim (Leukine) drug is under study. They believe that this drug may promote the immune system so that the brain cannot form harmful proteins.
Studying insulin resistance
Scientists are looking at the impacts of insulin on brain cell function and brain and many other Alzheimer’s-related changes in the brain due to insulin. A clinical trial is under study on an insulin nasal spray. But, unfortunately, this drug did not slow down Alzheimer’s progression.
Studying the association of heart disease
Some evidence during the past studies showed that brain health is associated with blood vessels and heart health. That is why, with the damaging of the arteries or heart, the risk of emerging dementia increases. The conditions related to heart disease are diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Several strategies are under consideration for this purpose that is:
1. Repurposing of the drugs for heart disease
For instance, researchers are currently studying whether high blood pressure or vascular disease medications may cut the risk of dementia or benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Identifying new-targeted drugs
Several studies are under consideration more closely to see the links between Alzheimer’s and heart disease. They are studying at the molecular level to identify new drug entities.
Recently, a study identified specific receptors in the hippocampus that bind with the neurotransmitter acetylcholine leading to the re-route of information. As a result, this information passes through the memory circuits, resulting in memory enhancement. Researchers believed that these findings could help advance the treatment of several brain disorders.
This drug explicitly targets receptors causing memory impairment without showing any side effects. Furthermore, the study identifies several vital processes involved in memory encoding and their interactions with the specifically targeted receptor proteins. In conclusion, the outcomes of this study would be beneficial for developing new and effective therapeutic drugs for Alzheimer’s treatment. However still, more research is needed to know how the brain arranges these pieces of information. Additionally, researchers want to investigate the factors involved in memory enhancement.