Preclinical research published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that the drug -- called BPN14770 -- deters the effects of amyloid beta, a hallmark protein of Alzheimer's that is toxic to nerve cells.
BPN14770, under development by Tetra Therapeutics, could help activate these mechanisms that support nerve health and prevent dementia, even with the progression of Alzheimer's.
"Such observations imply that Alzheimer's pathology can be tolerated by the brain to some extent due to compensatory mechanisms operating at the cellular and synaptic levels," said study researcher Ying Xu, Associate Professor at University at Buffalo.
"Our new research suggests that BPN14770 may be capable of activating multiple biological mechanisms that protect the brain from memory deficits, neuronal damage and biochemical impairments," Xu added.
The research conducted in mice, discovered that BPN14770 inhibits the activity of phosphodiesterase?4D (PDE4D), an enzyme that plays a key role in memory formation, learning, neuroinflammation and traumatic brain injury.
PDE4D lowers cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) -- a messenger molecule that signals physiological changes such as cell division, change, migration and death -- in the body, leading to physical alterations in the brain.
cAMP has numerous beneficial functions, including improved memory. By inhibiting PDE4D, BPN14770 increases cAMP signalling in the brain, which ultimately protects against the toxic effects of amyloid beta.
"The role of PDE4D in modulating brain pathways involved in memory formation and cognition, and the ability of our PDE4D inhibitor to selectively enhance this process, has been well studied," said Mark E. Gurney from Tetra Therapeutics.
"We are very excited by our colleagues' findings, which now suggest a second protective mechanism of action for BPN14770 against the progressive neurological damage associated with Alzheimer's disease," Gurney said.
"Developing effective drugs for memory deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease has been challenging," said M. O'Donnell, Professor at University at Buffalo.
"BPN14770 works by a novel mechanism to increase cyclic AMP signalling in the brain, which has been shown to improve memory. The collaborative project has led to clinical trials that will begin to test its effectiveness," O'Donnell said.