Sunday, July 27, 2008

Oxidative Stress - An Emerging Approach to Fighting Alzheimer's and Related Dementias

Week of July 27 - August 2, 2008
Alzheimer's Weekly

Anavex is enthusiastic about its experimental medication that fights Alzheimer's andother dementias by battling oxidative stress.

A growing number of publications have supported the idea that oxidative stress may be the real cause of Alzheimer's. For example, in "Involvement of Oxidative Stress in Alzheimer's Disease," published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology in 2006, study leader Dr. Akihiko Nunomura pointed to extensive evidence of mechanistic and chronological links between oxidative stress and a number of key characteristics of the disease.

Interestingly, this research also suggests that amyloid beta, which can act as an anti-oxidant, could in fact be initially produced by the body as it tries to combat the disease, only later turning toxic as the substance accumulates in large amounts. In other words, amyloid-beta could be the body's early protective reaction to the disease - suggesting that its removal from the brain during the early stages of Alzheimer's could in fact do more harm than good.

This theory is consistent with a number of factors for which the amyloid-beta hypothesis has been unable to account. There are reports, for instance, of individuals with amyloid-beta loads equivalent to Alzheimer's patients who do not suffer from the disease, as noted by R. J. Castellani et al in a 2006 article in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias.

In addition, scientists have found a weak correlation between the amount of amyloid beta present in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers and the severity of the illness. Furthermore, even though some test drugs reduce the amount of amyloid-beta in the brain, this is not correlated with substantial improvements in cognitive functioning.

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