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Alzheimer's drug combined with physiotherapy helps stroke recovery: study

TOKYO -- A drug that could considerably improve the effects of physiotherapy following a stroke has been discovered, a Japanese research team announced April 6.

    Originally developed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, the drug has been confirmed to be effective in helping mice and monkeys recover from strokes.

    A team of researchers including those from Yokohama City University and Tokyo-based Toyama Chemical Co., a Fujifilm Holdings Corp. group company, made the announcement in the April 6 issue of the U.S. journal Science.

    Toyama Chemical Co. is set to conduct clinical studies on about 40 patients beginning this fall at the earliest.

    The drug acts on parts of the brain that have been damaged by strokes, and when administered in conjunction with physiotherapy, has the effect of increasing the activity of receptors in the brain, which are responsible for relaying information.

    The research team had mice with damaged brains undergo a form of physiotherapy by training them to obtain food with their front legs, and timed how long it took the mice to complete the action. The motor function of the group of mice who were administered the drug returned to normal after about 50 days, while the condition of mice that only underwent physiotherapy or were only given the drugs barely improved.

    Likewise brain-damaged crab-eating macaques were tasked with pinching food out of a small space, a rehabilitation activity requiring finer motor skills than that given to mice. The macaques who were not given the drug saw almost no improvement in their condition, but those who were given the drug regained almost all their motor skills in about 30 days.

    "The act of pinching with one's fingers is inextricably linked to everyday life, but it has thus far been difficult for motor skills to be regained solely through rehab," said Takuya Takahashi, a neuroscience professor at Yokohama City University and a member of the research team. "We expect great results from our new findings." (Japanese original by Yui Shuzo, Science & Environment News Department)

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