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One of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer's disease affects more than 46 million people around the globe. Alzheimer's is characterised by progressive memory loss, difficulty in solving problems, and disorientation. And the treatments for Alzheimer's now is about slowing down the progression of the symptoms.
And that's the reason scientists from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom looked for a different way to treat Alzheimer's. And in the process, they found that a drug that is being used to treat liver disease can also tackle Alzheimer's.
Published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, lead author Dr. Heather Mortiboys said that for the first time in actual Alzheimer's patient tissue, their study showed that UDCA acid can boost the performance of the mitochondria. Mitochondria are known to provide the cells with the energy they need to grow and divide.
Previous research has suggested that the liver disease drug, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has potential in stopping the development of Parkinson's disease. That study also found that UDCA was capable of improving the functioning of mitochondria in a few patients who were diagnosed with Parkinson's.
For the study, the research team collected tissues from patients with Alzheimer's disease, and confirmed that the UDCA drug did improve mitochondrial function in the patients. The authors also noticed that the drug improved mitochondrial function by "modifying" the shape of the affected mitochondria.
Dr. Mortiboys added that they found that the drug, which is used for liver disease, acts by changing the shape of the 'batteries'.
More importantly, they found that the drug was active in the cells of people with the most common type of the Alzheimer's sporadic Alzheimer's. And that could help thousands of patients. The team believes that since the UDCA is already in use, clinical trials will be done soon for its effectiveness and subsequent therapy for Alzheimer's patients.
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