Scientists believe they may have discovered a process which contributes to the plaque building known to cause Alzheimer’s disease. They found that in Alzheimer’s, immune cells which normally protect the brain instead begin to consume a vital nutrient called known as arginine. However by blocking this process with a drug they were able to prevent the plaque formation that is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. In animal studies this was shown to halt memory loss although no human trials have yet been completed.
Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) is the drug being trialled to block the body’s immune response to arginine. Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said the new study “joins some of the dots in our incomplete understanding of the processes that cause Alzheimer’s disease”.