London – In two separate events, scientist made medical breakthrough that will probably lead to curing two illnesses: Alzheimer’s and colorectal cancer.
Scientists at Cleveland Clinic announced a new drug that reverses Alzheimer’s disease in mice, while scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered a fast, noninvasive method that could lead to the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
In their new study, the Cleveland Clinic scientists said that the experimental drug shows promise in treating Alzheimer’s disease by preventing inflammation and removing abnormal protein clumps in the brain that are associated with the disease.
The drug, NTRX-07, is believed to work by decreasing the amount of inflammation caused by the plaques and tangles of protein aggregates, a hallmark progression of AD, as well as by boosting the function of neighboring neurons and regenerative cells in the brain.
“NTRX-07 uses a different mechanism than many other Alzheimer’s drugs currently available, as it targets the cause of the disease, not just the symptoms,” Lead researcher at Cleveland Clinic Dr. Mohamed Naguib said in a press release.
The researchers discovered that NTRX -07 memory-restoring abilities while studying the drug’s potential to treat a complex, chronic pain condition called neuropathic pain. “Patients who have neuropathic pain have chronic neuroinflammation,” said Dr. Naguib. “This is a compound that blunts that inflammation.”
Researchers tested NRTX-07 on mice bred to have similar brain neurodegenerative issues as seen in Alzheimer’s. They found that inflammation produced in response to the disease caused changes in the brain’s microglia cells — immune cells that typically remove dangerous amyloid plaques (protein clumps) in the brain. As the amyloid plaques accumulated in the mice, the microglia (immune cells) were unable to remove them, leading to inflammation and damage to nerve cells, which caused decreased cognitive ability.
The team presented its findings at the 2016 Anesthesiology Annual meeting.
Researchers from Washington State University (WSU) and Johns Hopkins Medical School combined two preexisting methods of molecular analysis and found a noninvasive and fast method that could help in early detection of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide with nearly 1.4 million new cases were diagnosed in 2012, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International. The disease is usually detected through Colonoscopy which is costly.
To identify the molecules for colon cancer in the feces the scientists used a technology called ion mobility-mass spectrometry. IMMS is found in sensor devices worldwide that sniff out illicit drugs, chemical warfare agents and explosives in airports.
The researchers first identified metabolic products from normal colon tissue in both humans and mice. IMMS can measure hundreds of metabolites simultaneously, such as enzymes, fats, glucose and amino acids. They found the lipids, fatty acids, and amino acids were changing.
Dr. Herbert Hill, a Regents professor at WSU said: “The exciting part is being able to see differences in the stool.”
He added: “This could lead to a noninvasive, more comprehensive early-warning detection method for colorectal cancer, but a lot of research needs to be done before it can be actually realized.”