30 July 2008

Alzheimer's Progress: Two New Drugs

In the UK, a new drug called Rember appears to target "Tau tangles" in the portion of the brain most active in memory formation.
The drug, Rember, targets the build-up of tau protein tangles which form inside the brain nerve cells of people with Alzheimer's. These tangles destroy nerve cells linked to memory, causing forgetfulness.

Professor Claude Wischik of Aberdeen University in northeast Scotland, who co-founded the company which created the drug, hailed the results as "the most significant development in the treatment of the tangles since Alois Alzheimer discovered them in 1907".
Meanwhile at the Alzheimer's conference in Chicago (ICAD 2008) new results for a drug designated Al-108 were announced.
One Phase II trial, of a compound called AL-108, targeted early abnormal brain changes in a protein called "tau" in a condition related to Alzheimer's called mild cognitive impairment (MCI: 24.15, -0.43, -1.74%). The researchers saw improvement on various measures of memory....

"Twelve weeks of AL-108 treatment given intranasally by spray resulted in a statistically significant, dose-dependent and durable improvement on measures of short-term memory, including visual, verbal, and auditory working memory, which is a type of memory function that deteriorates throughout the progression of Alzheimer's," Schmechel said.

"This makes AL-108 the first drug to validate in humans the importance of the 'tangle' or 'tau' pathway in Alzheimer's. Based on these results in MCI, there are plans for further development of AL-108 in Alzheimer's," Schmechel added.
Other studies presented at the Chicago conference suggested that diabetes drugs including insulin may reduce the size of Alzheimer's brain plaques.

In addition to the above new drugs, the antihistamine Dimebon and the anti-arthritis drug Etanercept are being studied intensively after early promising research findings. Chana de Wolf presents more information on the TNF-alpha modulation effect of etanercept at Depressed Metabolism blog.

This progress comes at a time when some studies indicate that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is far more common than previously thought, often beginning in the 50's, and progressing to dementia over a period of years or decades.

Brian Wang has more on Al-108


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