UW research shows breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment

A hand holding a basket with various leaflets and boxes of pills.
A breakthrough by Professor Praveen Nekkar could signal the end of Alzheimer's disease.

A breakthrough by Professor Praveen Nekkar of the UW School of Pharmacy has shown promise treating and potentially curing Alzheimer’s disease.

In a previous study, Nekkar discovered that fluoxetine and paroxetine both show promise in slowing the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Both of these medications are common antidepressants used for different mood disorders.

A primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of plaque in a person’s brain. Plaque blocks out the signals between nerve cells, leading to the symptoms characteristic with the disease. Nekkar’s research showed that using these medications early enough helps to prevent the proteins that cause these plaques from binding to the brain, prolonging the onset of symptoms by up to three years.

The chemical structures of these antidepressants are being analyzed to create a blueprint for future drugs with even higher rates of success. The end goal is something to both cure and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Nekkar is collaborating with researchers from the University of Bordeaux in France. At UW, another partnership is happening between the department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering and the School of Pharmacy. Connections between the two have provided access to better modelling techniques and screening. Combined, all of these could lead to a day where Alzheimer’s disease is a thing of the past.


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