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Anti-inflammatory function of Alzheimer's disease drugs revealed

The mechanism in anti-Alzheimer's disease drugs that inhibits the production of a destructive, inflammation-causing protein in the brain has been revealed by researchers at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem.

Their work, described in a recent issue of the American journal, Annals of Neurology, is likely to lead to the development of more efficient drugs than are currently in use for treating Alzheimer's Disease as well as other neurological conditions resulting from infections, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, or brain inflammation resulting from trauma or stroke.

The research team working on this project was headed by Prof. Raz Yirmiya of the Psychology Department at the Hebrew University, Dr. Yehuda Pollak, a post-doctoral fellow in Prof. Yirmiya's laboratory; and in cooperation with Hermona Soreq, the Charlotte Slesinger Professor of Cancer Studies at the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University, and Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur of the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine.

Alzheimer's Disease is a degenerative disease of the brain, characterized by a deterioration of both cognitive and physical abilities. It first affects memory and the ability to carry out complex, coordinated tasks. It also can bring on depression, inattention and outbursts of anger. In a more progressive stage, the disease can cause difficulties in the ability to perform even simple tasks such as speaking and comprehending, eating and sleeping. The affected person can even forget his name and identity.

The medicines administered today to Alzheimer's Disease patients focus on preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical produced by brain cells which transmits information within the brain and is vitally involved in cognitive processes that include memory, attention and thought. Because acetylcholine-producing cells are among the first to die in Alzheimer's Disease patients, drug-induced elevation of acetylcholine levels
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-2-5882904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
28-Jul-2005


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