Adding vitamin C to certain drugs may help treat Alzheimers, other brain disorders

Drugs used to treat Alzheimers and other brain disorders appear to enter the brain more easily when a vitamin C molecule is attached, according to researchers in Italy. The discovery could lead to safer and more effective drugs that target the brain, they say.

The study is tentatively scheduled to appear in the Jan. 31 print issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society. It was published in the Web edition of the journal on Dec. 21.

Weve opened a door for a promising new way to improve delivery of drugs into the brain using a natural nutrient, ascorbic acid [vitamin C], says Stefano Manfredini, lead investigator in the study and a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Ferrara in Ferrara, Italy.

Some drugs that have difficulty entering the brain could cross more easily when attached to a vitamin C molecule, while some that cannot enter the brain could enter for the first time, he says. Potential applications include drugs for central nervous system diseases, viral infections (including AIDS), brain lesions, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimers, Parkinsons and epilepsy, Manfredini says.

He calls the results exciting, but cautions that the data are very preliminary. So far, animal tests of at least one of the vitamin C modified drugs appear promising, but no human tests have been conducted. The new design approach will not enhance the effectiveness of all drugs, while those that do work could take several years to reach the consumer market, the researcher predicts.

One of the major problems in the treatment of brain diseases is the difficulty of distributing drugs to the central nervous system. This is due to a natural barrier, the blood brain barrier, which selectively regulates the movement of chemicals across the brain.

Researchers have known for some time that adding new compon

Contact: Beverly Hassell
American Chemical Society

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