One For All? Hitting multiple Alzheimer’s Disease targets with one drug

Rebecca E. Hughes, Katarina Nikolic, Rona Ruth Ramsay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Alzheimer’s Disease is a complex and multifactorial disease for which the mechanism is still not fully understood. As new insights into disease progression are discovered, new drugs must be designed to target those aspects of the disease that cause neuronal damage rather than just the symptoms currently addressed by single target drugs. It is becoming possible to target several aspects of the disease pathology at once using multi-target drugs. Intended as a introduction for non-experts, this review describes the key multi-target drug design approaches, namely structure-based, in silico, and data-mining, to evaluate what is preventing compounds progressing through the clinic to the market. Repurposing current drugs using their off-target effects reduces the cost of development, time to launch, and the uncertainty associated with safety and pharmacokinetics. The most promising drugs currently being investigated for repurposing to Alzheimer’s Disease are rasagiline, originally developed for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, and liraglutide, an antidiabetic. Rational drug design can combine pharmacophores of multiple drugs, systematically change functional groups, and rank them by virtual screening. Hits confirmed experimentally are rationally modified to generate an effective multi-potent lead compound. Examples from this approach are ASS234 with properties similar to rasagiline, and donecopride, a hybrid of an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and a 5-HT4 receptor agonist with pro-cognitive effects. Exploiting these interdisciplinary approaches, public-private collaborative lead factories promise faster delivery of new drugs to the clinic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number177
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2016


  • Multi-target drugs
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • In silico
  • Datamining
  • Rational drug design
  • Repurposing


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