Hopes for advance in Alzheimer’s treatment

SCIENTISTS have found a new way to deliver Alzheimer’s drugs directly to the brain, sparking hopes that more effective treatment could be made available to sufferers.

Efforts to treat the disease have been hampered over the last 50 years by the difficulty of administering drugs to the brain to slow or halt its progression.

But a team of University of Oxford researchers has successfully switched off a gene implicated in Alzheimer’s in the brains of mice by exploiting tiny particles naturally released by cells, called exosomes.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The exosomes, injected into the blood, are able to carry a drug across the normally impermeable blood-brain barrier to the brain where it is needed.

It is hoped that the method, if successfully tested in humans, could resolve the difficulty in administering potential new drugs for many neurological diseases including Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease and muscular dystrophy.

But the researchers cautioned that although the results were significant and promising, a number of steps must be taken before this form of drug delivery can be tested in humans.

Lead scientist Dr Matthew Wood of Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics called the results dramatic and exciting and said: “This is the first time this natural system has been exploited for drug delivery.”

The Alzheimer’s Society welcomed the findings but said more research was needed.

The study is published in Nature Biotechnology.