18 July 2008

Obscure Russian Antihistamine May Point to Key Weakness of Alzheimer's Disease

183 Russian Alzheimer's patients were studied for a year to compare the safety and efficacy of Dimebon, an obscure antihistamine that is not on the market anywhere in the world. The study was conducted by Baylor College of Medicine researchers, and published in the Lancet.
In the study, the authors noted that Dimebon is the first drug for Alzheimer's disease that demonstrated continued improvement in patients over a 12 month period. Other approved drugs do not have this effect.

Half of the 183 patients in the Russian study received Dimebon; the other half were given a placebo or an inactive pill. Clinicians at the study sites then monitored the patients' progress over the next year on five different outcomes. All of those in the study had mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

"What we saw in the clinical trial is that people on the medication continued to improve over time," Doody said. "Those on placebo continued to decline."

Researchers believe the medication works by stabilizing mitochondria, the cellular components that produce energy, and possibly by inhibiting brain cell death. Researchers evaluated patients' thinking and memory ability, overall function, psychiatric and behavioral symptoms, and ability to perform daily activities.

"Usually at this point in a drug's development, we are happy to see improvement in one of the outcome measures," Doody said. "We saw improvement in all five." _SD
The study was reportedly well-designed and conducted. The significant and ongoing improvement of the drug group over the placebo group for at least a year, is quite impressive. Rights for the drug are owned by Medivation, Inc. (Nasdaq: MDVN), which has enjoyed a recent boost in stock price.

Update: A Washington Post article from today's edition has more about this study, as well as updates on other research approaches to treating AD. Excerpt:
The study was done in Russia because dimebon had been approved there as an antihistamine. Dimebon is made by the San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company Medivation. Doody is on the Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board of Medivation and has stock options in the company.

Another phase III trial has just started, Doody said. This six-month trial is being conducted in the United States, Europe and South America and is now in the process of recruiting several hundred patients, she noted.


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Blogger Aschwin de Wolf said...

Interesting. In light of its reported mechanisms, it might be beneficial to investigate this medication in combination with Enbrel (etanercept):

Enbrel reverses Alzheimer’s cognitive deficits

Friday, 18 July, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Good insight, Aschwin. The complementary effects of the two drugs together might be much better than either one alone.

Friday, 18 July, 2008  

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