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Promising treatment of Alzheimer's disease

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Two years ago researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital reported that the antibiotic clioquinol inhibited and even reduced the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain of mice engineered to developed Alzheimer-like deposits. Now researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the University of Melbourne are about to release the results of a phase II trial involving the use of clioquinol in human Alzheimer's patients. So far the findings are extremely promising. Clioquinol treatment slowed down the disease and significantly reduced the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, a cardinal feature of Alzheimer's.

Dr. Ashley Bush of the Harvard Medical School believes that Alzheimer's disease begins when iron, copper and zinc accumulates in the brain and turns beta-amyloid into a rogue enzyme that catalyses the production of hydrogen peroxide which then attacks and destroys brain cells. In the process beta-amyloid forms into the long chain of insoluble plaque so characteristic of Alzheimer's. Dr. Bush believes that clioquinol works by removing (chelating?) the metals from the brain. This, in turn, stops the formation of hydrogen peroxide and thus the destruction of brain cells and also prevents the beta-amyloid particles from clumping together. There is some concern that clioquinol depletes vitamin B12 in the body so vitamin B12 supplementation is a must when taking clioquinol.
Helmuth, Laura. An antibiotic to treat Alzheimer's? Science, Vol. 290, November 17, 2000, pp. 1273- 74
Westphal, Sylvia Pagan. You must remember this… New Scientist, August 3, 2002, p. 14

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