A New Hope in the Fight Against Alzheimer's Disease

More than five million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia. Many experts even predict those numbers to skyrocket in the coming years. As of now, the disease is irreversible, and current treatments only offer symptomatic relief. While there is no known cure, there is a new reason for hope.

Dr. Shijun Zhang PH.D. has designed a hybrid compound of melatonin and curcumin to take on neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injuries. Specifically, his team created an inhibitor to block NLRP3 that causes inflammation of the nerve tissues.

Neuro-inflammation is a key symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and Zhang’s work has already shown to halt further swelling, potentially regulating one of the most prominent risk factors associated with the disease.

Zhang’s team is simultaneously working to overcome the limits of traditional single-target treatments. So far, these novel compounds are reported to address multiple risk factors at once for added neuroprotection, cell survival, improved absorption, and reduced toxic side effects.

“Alzheimer's disease is a devastating disease that desperately needs effective treatments to help patients and their caregivers. Our Technology will provide a new direction in developing novel compounds to fight this disease, and VCU Innovation Gateway has been extremely helpful in securing the IP and promoting our technology along the journey. ”

Shijun Zhang, Ph.D., Associate Professor Department of Medicinal Chemistry School of Pharmacy