Epilepsy Drugs May Treat Alzheimer's

A group of drugs used to treat epilepsy may also treat
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease .

New research shows treatment with T-type calcium channel blockers, used to
treat epilepsy, protected nerve cells from the brains of mice that can be
damaged by neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Researchers say there aren't any effective medications that protect brain
cells from age-related damage and degeneration. If these findings hold up under
further study in humans, they could lead to a new class of more effective
treatments for age-related neurological diseases. 

Calcium-signaling pathways play an important role in the survival of nerve
cells (neurons) in the brain. As people age, this process can become disrupted
and can lead to cognitive and functional decline.

Researchers say that opens up the possibility of using chemicals like
calcium channel blockers that are involved in the calcium-signaling process to
protect the nerve cells from death.

The study, published in Molecular Neurodegeneration, looked at the
effects of treatment with calcium channel blockers on the brain cells of

Researchers found neurons showed an increase in viability after treatment
with the calcium channel blockers over both the long term and short term.

"Our data provides implications for the use of this family of anti-epileptic
drugs in developing new treatments for neuronal injury, and for the need of
further studies of the use of such drugs in age-related neurodegenerative
disorders," says researcher Jianxin Bao, PhD, of Washington University in St.
Louis, in a news release.

By Jennifer Warner
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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