Today’s Solutions: June 14, 2024

Alzheimer’s disease remains a challenging problem for both researchers and patients, but recent studies have thrown light on possible links between sleep patterns and disease development. One exciting line of inquiry is the use of sleeping drugs to reduce the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain. 

The role of suvorexant in reducing Alzheimer’s proteins

A study undertaken by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found hopeful results about the impact of suvorexant, a popular insomnia medicine, on Alzheimer’s proteins. According to senior researcher neurologist Brendan Lucey, suvorexant has been shown to reduce levels of amyloid-beta and tau proteins, which are known to build in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.

Lucey underlines the significance of this study, saying, “Promoting sleep could be one avenue to stave off Alzheimer’s disease, by allowing the sleeping brain to flush itself of leftover proteins and the day’s other waste products.” While the study provides hopeful findings, Lucey cautions against jumping to conclusions about suvorexant’s efficacy in preventing Alzheimer’s.

Navigating the complexities of sleep medications

Despite the potential benefits of sleeping drugs in fostering healthier sleep patterns, scientists warn against overusing them. Lucey cautions that long-term use of sleeping drugs can develop to reliance and alter sleep quality, perhaps exacerbating Alzheimer’s-related protein buildup. As a result, while suvorexant shows promise, its long-term effects warrant more exploration.

Investigating the mechanisms of sleep and Alzheimer’s

To better understand the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, researchers undertook a large study with middle-aged volunteers. They attempted to understand how suvorexant influences the buildup of amyloid-beta and tau proteins by measuring changes in protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid during 36 hours.

The findings were intriguing, with suvorexant indicating a slight but significant reduction in amyloid-beta levels. Furthermore, the larger dose of suvorexant briefly reduced levels of hyperphosphorylated tau, a modified version of the tau protein linked to Alzheimer’s pathology. While these findings are encouraging, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of suvorexant on Alzheimer’s protein buildup.

What’s next in Alzheimer’s research?

Despite advances in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, there are still major difficulties in establishing effective treatments. The prevailing idea relating aberrant protein clumps to Alzheimer’s pathology has been challenged in recent years, pushing researchers to investigate other reasons for the disease’s progression.

Lucey is cautiously hopeful about the prospect of sleep-focused therapies in Alzheimer’s prevention, saying, “Improving sleep hygiene and seeking treatment for sleep problems such as sleep apnea are both sensible approaches to improving general brain health at any age.” While the path to developing tailored medicines for Alzheimer’s is unknown, ongoing research into the complicated interplay between sleep and neurodegeneration provides promise for future advances.

Navigating the nexus between sleep and Alzheimer’s

As our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease evolves, so should our approach to prevention and treatment. While suvorexant and other sleep drugs show promise in reducing Alzheimer’s-related protein buildup, they are only one part of the problem. By taking a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes healthy sleep habits, lifestyle changes, and continued research, we may work together to create a future in which Alzheimer’s is no longer a danger.

Source study: Annals of Neurology—Suvorexant acutely decreases tau phosphorylation and Aβ in the human CNS

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

The innovative ‘Sign Language Ambulance’ service revolutionizes e...

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL STAFF In an unprecedented step to improve emergency care for the deaf population, the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) ...

Read More

As the weather warms up, here’s how to help animals handle a heatwave

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL STAFF Right now, much of Europe and North America are experiencing ongoing heatwaves with record-breaking temperatures.  It’s not just ...

Read More

Lab-grown meat to become cheaper than conventional beef by 2030

From steak cuts to chicken burgers, lab-grown meat is showing promising potential to transform the meat industry and shift it towards a more ethical ...

Read More

Graphene could replace rare metal needed for our touchscreens

What do touchscreen, LED lighting, and solar cells have in common? A rare metal called indium, which is a key ingredient in their manufacturing ...

Read More