A drug commonly used to treat cancer can restore memory and cognitive function in mice that display symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, new research at the University of British Columbia (UBC) has found. The drug, axitinib, inhibits the growth of new blood vessels in the brain—a feature shared by both cancer tumors and Alzheimer’s disease, but this hallmark represents a new target for Alzheimer’s therapies. Mice with Alzheimer’s disease that underwent the UBC therapy not only exhibited a reduction in blood vessels and other Alzheimer’s markers in their brains, they also performed remarkably well in tests designed to measure learning and memory. “We are really very excited, because these findings suggest we can repurpose approved anti-cancer drugs for use as treatments for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Professor Wilf Jefferies, PhD, the study’s senior author and principal investigator at the Centre for Blood Research, Vancouver Prostate Centre and Michael Smith Laboratories.
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