July 30, 2008
Revolutionary Drug That Can Arrest the Effects of Alzheimer’s By 80%
By JANE KIRBY
A new drug could prove at least twice as effective in treating Alzheimer's disease as current medicines, new research has shown.
The drug, rember, slows progression of the disease by as much as 81%, a British-led study has found.
People taking it for 50 weeks had a slower decline in blood flow to the parts of the brain that are important for memory than those taking a dummy pill.
Rember is the first drug to act on the tau tangles that develop in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
Such tangles are made up of the protein, tau, which form inside nerve cells in the brain.
These tangles first destroy the nerve cells linked to memory and then destroy neurons in other parts of the brain as the disease progresses.
Experts hailed the research as a major development in the fight against Alzheimer's, which affects around 350,000 people in the UK. The study was carried out by Professor Claude Wischik and colleagues at the University of Aberdeen.
Prof Wischik, who co-founded TauRx Therapeutics, which is developing the treatment, said: "This is an unprecedented result in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
"We have demonstrated for the first time that it may be possible to arrest progression of the disease by targeting the tangles which are highly correlated with the disease.
"This is the most significant development in the treatment of the tangles since Alois Alzheimer discovered them in 1907."
The study, which is being presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago, focused on 321 people with mild and moderate Alzheimer's disease in the UK and Singapore.
They were divided into four groups, three taking different doses of rember and a fourth group acting as placebo.
Experts found there were significant differences 24 weeks into the study between the groups only in relation to people with moderate Alzheimer's.
But after 50 weeks, those with both mild and moderate Alzheimer's who were taking rember experienced an 81% reduction in mental decline compared with those taking a placebo. Those on rember did not experience a significant decline in their mental function over 19 months while those on placebo got worse.
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