December 1, 2004

Two New Alzheimer’s Treatments Patented

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute has patented two new potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

One treatment uses bryostatin, a cancer treatment drug. Bryostatin activates an enzyme, which jump-starts a chemical process thought to reduce the growth of certain plaques in the brain believed to cause Alzheimer's, institute researchers found.

In lab animals, bryostatin appears to treat the memory loss symptoms and the causes of Alzheimer's.

"Bryostatin might even prevent the disease," said Dr. Daniel Alkon, the institute's scientific director.

The other treatment appears to improve short-term memory by combining methylxanthine, found in coffee and tea, and phenylalanine, an artificial sweetener ingredient. Alkon said the mixture might also be used to treat attention-deficit disorder.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patents on Nov. 23 and Nov. 30, and clinical trials could start in six to eight months.

Both treatments, which use substances already approved for use in humans, require more testing in people to see if they are safe and effective.

The patents build on previous research at the institute into how brain molecules interact to form memory.

Alzheimer's affects about 40,000 West Virginians and more than 4 million Americans.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., helped found the nonprofit institute in 1999 in memory of his mother, who battled Alzheimer's before her death in 1992.

West Virginia University recently broke ground for a $30 million building in Morgantown for the institute.

About 25 institute researchers work in labs at WVU and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.


On the Net:

The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute:


Information from: The Charleston Gazette,