Study finds common cancer drug reverses Alzheimer's symptoms

A new study reports that a common cancer drug can be used to restore cognition and memory in mice with Alzheimer's symptoms. The research was recently published by scientists at the University of British Columbia. Among other things, the mice that were treated with this drug performed better in tests designed to evaluate memory and the ability to learn.

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease remain a growing public health issue that's expected to become more burdensome on the healthcare system as modern medicine and improved living conditions enable people around the world to live to older ages. While some treatments are currently available that may slow the disease's progression, there's no known way to reverse the condition.

According to the new study from UBC, the commonly used cancer drug Axitinib may provide a solution. In addition to performing better during tests, the mice treated with this drug also showed a decrease of Alzheimer's markers in the brain, as well as a reduction in the excess brain blood vessel growth associated with the disease.

Unlike some other promising Alzheimer's treatment developments that ended up failing at the clinical level, Axitinib is already approved for treating cancer. Potentially repurposing the drug to also treat Alzheimer's disease could represent a massive jump in the effort to treat this condition...assuming the drug proves as useful in humans by way of clinical trials.

The study's principal investigator and senior author Professor Wilf Jefferies said:

We are really very excited because these findings suggest we can repurpose approved anti-cancer drugs for use as treatments for Alzheimer's disease. It could shorten the clinical development by years.