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Alzheimer's Drugs May Do More Harm Than Good, Study Finds

HANS-ULRICH OSTERWALDER/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- In clinical tests, BACE1 inhibitors have shown great promise in helping to slow down the effects of Alzheimer's disease.  But a new study out of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is flashing yellow warning lights about these drugs, contending that they may possibly wind up making Alzheimer's patients worse.

Study researcher Robert Vassar says that the intent of BACE1 inhibitors is to stop the development of protein plaques in the brain that scientists believe is a leading cause of Alzheimer's, which is expected to afflict millions more over the next several decades as the American population ages.

In his study, Vassar, a professor of cell and molecular biology, says that experiments on mice have shown that BACE1 inhibitors throw a monkey wrench in the brain's wiring and can prevent the formation of new memories.

He says that companies developing the drugs -- which are still unapproved by the federal government but being used on human patients -- should proceed with caution with this new information at hand.

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