24 January 2008

New Alzheimer's Treatment Approach

An excess of Beta amyloid protein in Alzheimer's patients leads to amyloid plaques and eventual neuronal death. One new approach to treating Alzheimer's is to block the enzymes that cleave the longer protein "APP" into Amyloid Beta, or A Beta.
The molecule, called a beta-secretase inhibitor, prevents the first step in a chain of events that leads to amyloid plaque formation in the brain. This plaque formation creates fibrous clumps of toxic proteins that are believed to cause the devastating symptoms of Alzheimer's.

The study of 48 healthy volunteers showed dose-related reduction in plasma amyloid beta, a protein believed to be a key biomarker of Alzheimer's. Results showed a single dose of the drug produced a greater than 60 percent reduction of the biomarker. Subjects received one of six different doses or a placebo, and the study measured levels of the therapeutic drug and levels of the biomarker in the bloodstream.

"The phase I clinical results are very exciting," Ghosh said. "We hope that this beta-secretase inhibitor drug will be one of the first disease modifying treatments that stops or reverses the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease."
Science Daily

Several new approaches to Alzheimer's treatment are aimed at the A Beta protein--either in preventing its overproduction, or in speeding its elimination. Here is an interesting approach--a vaccine against Amyloid Beta. These approaches have the potential to prevent the onset or full manifestation of Alzheimer's, once diagnosed or strongly suspected. Better screening tests and genetic tests should allow good selection of candidates for various primary and secondary preventive strategies.

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