Therapeutic Targets and Mechanisms for Treatment

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is characterized histopathologically by the presence of plaques, mainly composed of Abeta amyloid and the tangles, mainly composed of hyperphosphorylated tau. To date, there is no treatment that can reverse the disease, and all the current therapeutics is directed to cope with the symptoms of the disease. Here we describe the efforts dedicated to attack the plaques and, in more detail, the process of neurofibrillary degeneration, linked to the presence of the hyperphosphorylated microtubule associated protein tau. We have identified the different putative targets for therapeutics and the current knowledge on them.

Treatment for Alzheimer's disease is entering a new and exciting phase, with several new drugs beginning clinical trials. Many of these new therapies are based on our best current understanding of the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, and are designed to try to either slow or halt the progression of the disease. There are several different theories underlying the current efforts, and these are briefly reviewed. Therapies directed against some aspect of beta-amyloid formation, against neurofibrillary tangle formation and against the inflammatory response are all considered, as are the problems associated with each area. It is as yet unclear which, if any, of these approaches will be successful, but the high level of activity in each of these three fields provides some hope that an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease is on the horizon.

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