This article in science is good news for suffers of Alzheimer’s. A group out of Case Western University reports that the drug Bexarotene can reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in mouse models of the disease.

More importantly, Bexarotene is already in use in human patients, making it easier to determine if the drug will have similar benefits for Alzheimer’s patients.

According to Alzheimer’s Foundation statistics, 5.4 million Americans suffer from this debilitating disease. Alzheimer’s devastates patient’s cognitive abilities, with the most notable symptom being profound and worsening memory loss. While some amount of memory loss is to be expected with old age, Alzheimer’s patients lose the ability to recognize family members, their surroundings, and ultimately require 24-hour care and hospitalization.

Alzheimer’s is thought to be the result of the building up of beta-amyloid proteins, which coalesce into plaques within the brain. In addition to effects on the mouse immune system which could help clear plaques, treatment with Bexarotene seems to modulate the production of ApoE (Apolipoprotein E), an important cholesterol transporter that can interact with and clear these beta-amyloid proteins.

If this treatment works as well in humans as in mice (where effects were noted within hours of treatment) we should know soon if there is a new hope for those affected by this devastating ailment.