HIV drug holds hope for Alzheimer’s after significantly reducing inflammation in mice

pharmafile | February 7, 2019 | News story | Research and Development HIV, dementia, inflamation 

Lamivudine, a generic drug for HIV, significantly reduces age-related inflammation and other signs of aging in mice, according to a study published in Nature.

“This holds promise for treating age-associated disorders including Alzheimer’s,” said John Sedivy, professor of medical science and biology at Brown University.

The drug works by halting retrotransposon activity, the process through which DNA sequences replicate themselves and move to other places. Retrotransposons, which are descended from ancient retroviruses, can, when left unchecked, produce DNA copies of themselves, and insert themselves into other parts of a cells genome.

While cells have developed mechanisms to prevent this happening, retrotransposons are often able to escape the clutches of these mechanisms as cells age.   

“When we started giving this HIV drug to mice, we noticed they had these amazing anti-inflammatory effects,” Sedivy said. “Our explanation is that although L1s are activated relatively late in senescence, the interferon response reinforces the SASP response and is responsible for age-associated inflammation.”

Treating 26 month old mice with lamivudine for as little as two weeks reduced evidence of inflammation while treating 20 month old mice with lamivudine for six months reduced signs of fat and muscle loss and kidney scarring.

“If we treat with lamivudine, we make a tangible dent in the interferon response and inflammation. But it doesn’t quite go back down to normal. We can fix part of the problem, but we don’t actually understand the whole aging problem yet. The L1 reverse transcripts are at least an important part of this mess.”

Louis Goss

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