Is a Cure for Alzheimer's Disease Just Around the Corner?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory may have found a way to reverse memory loss in mice, and possibly a breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The team focused on one enzyme that causes memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients.
Even though there’s a long way to go, it’s an exciting development.
“This has the potential to really make a difference,” says Jay Penney, PhD, one of the lead authors of a new study.
“What we’ve done is found a new way to basically prevent this negative effect of this enzyme,” he says.
The Key to Stopping Memory Loss.
They accomplished that by turning off the enzyme. And what happened in the mice? It didn’t just stop the memory loss, it actually reversed it!
“We seem to have been able to pinpoint its role in memory processes quite specifically,” said Penney.
If it does the same thing for people with Alzheimer’s, then the plan would be to develop a drug to treat the disease.
“It’s definitely an exciting avenue that has now been opened by this,” Penney says.
It’s been known for some time that this enzyme triggers memory loss, but this is the first time scientists have been able to switch it off without causing other kinds of problems.
Even though testing on people is many years away, the stakes are very high. If treatments are not found, the disease and the damage it does will dramatically increase as the population ages.
Source: CBS Boston
Despite Disappointment - Alzheimer’s Drug Development and Testing Continues
If you or a family member has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease, then you probably pay close attention to news about the latest drug research and other efforts to combat or even reverse the dreadful affliction.
There have been many experimental drugs tested and some have even reached the market. Drugs such as Aricept and Namenda have been shown to temporarily deal with symptoms of the disease but done nothing to stop its advancement. Now the latest results of trials of the drug known as LMTX have shown it is no more effective.
A New York Times article titled “Alzheimer’s Drug LMTX Falters in Final Stage of Trials” highlighted the unwelcomed trial results. “Over all, the patients who received LMTX, which was developed by TauRx Therapeutics, did not have a slower rate of decline in mental ability or daily functioning than those in the control group” according to the Times.
This new type of drug for Alzheimer’s disease failed to slow the rate of decline in mental ability and daily functioning in its first large clinical trial, though prior to the latest study there was hopefulness. It seemed a small portion of the study participants saw favorable results. “There were highly significant, clinically meaningful, large effects in patients taking the drug as monotherapy, and no effect in patients taking it as an add-on,” Claude Wischik, a founder and the chief executive of TauRx, said in an interview. He spoke from Toronto, where the results were being presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. Monotherapy has the meaning that only the test drug was being administered, with no other related drug(s).
Future of the drug LMTX still to be determined in spite of results.
Although some people associated with the TauRx study said there were some hopeful results, other experts not involved in the study were skeptical about drawing conclusions from a small subset of patients, especially since there was no obvious explanation why LMTX would be expected to work only in patients not getting other drugs. Regulators might also be skeptical and require the company to conduct another large study, this time only with participants not using other drugs.
“I have to say that the results that we saw here were, to me, more disappointing than not,” Dr. David Knopman, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, said in moderating a news conference at the meeting in Toronto.
Regardless of these mostly disappointing results, Dr. Wischik said the company planned to apply for approval of LMTX to be used by itself.
The Phase 3 trial presented on Wednesday had 891 patients from 16 countries with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease. They were randomly assigned to be treated with a lower dose of LMTX, a higher dose of LMTX or a placebo. (The placebo contained a tiny amount of LMTX to turn the patients’ urine bluish green. Otherwise people would know if they were getting the drug or the placebo based on the color of their urine.)
The decision of the company to continue with the drug LMTX certainly shows there is an obvious great desire for work to continue on Alzheimer’s research, with the hope of one day discovering genuinely effective drug treatment for what today seems an unstoppable disease.
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