Alzheimer’s drugs appear effective against the disease.

A group of scientists report that they have evidence implicating beta-amyloid in glaucoma. The research carried out at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology also showed that drugs being tested for Alzheimer’s disease, which target this protein, may be used to treat glaucoma.

The research team developed a new technology for visualising nerve cell damage in the retina, known as detection of apoptosing retinal cells. They demonstrated that the protein beta-amyloid also leads to nerve cell death in the retina.

Using animal models, the scientists also found that drugs that work to prevent the build up of the beta-amyloid in Alzheimer’s brains can be used to treat glaucoma. One such drug, Bapineuzumab, is already being used in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s patients by pharmaceutical companies Elan and Wyeth in the US. In the study, the scientists combined it with two other novel Alzheimer’s treatments and found that the effects on glaucoma were even stronger.

The research was published August 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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