Drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are in urgent demand due to the unmet need and the social burden associated with the disease. Curcumin has been historically considered as a beneficial product for anti-aging and AD. However, many efforts to develop curcumin for clinical use are hindered mainly due to its poor bioavailability. Recent development in drug delivery and structural design has resolved these issues. In this study, we identified a small molecule, TML-6, as a potential drug candidate for AD through screening a panel of curcumin derivatives using six biomarker platforms related to aging biology and AD pathogenesis. The structural modification of TML-6 is designed to improve the stability and metabolism of curcumin. Cell biological studies demonstrated that TML-6 could inhibit the synthesis of the β-amyloid precursor protein and β-amyloid (Aβ), upregulate Apo E, suppress NF-κB and mTOR, and increase the activity of the anti-oxidative Nrf2 gene. In the 3x-Tg AD animal model, TML-6 treatment resulted in significant improvement in learning, suppression of the microglial activation marker Iba-1, and reduction in Aβ in the brain. Although TML-6 exhibited a greater improvement in bioavailability as compared to curcumin, formulation optimization and toxicological studies are under development to assure its druggability. Taken together, TML-6 meets the current strategy to develop therapeutics for AD, targeting the combination of the Aβ cascade and aging-related biology processes.
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