August 4, 2008

Scots Create Drug to Halt Alzheimer’s Pill is ‘Biggest Breakthrough in 100 Years’

SCOTS scientists have developed a drug they say can halt the devastating progress of Alzheimer's disease.

It could prove at least twice as effective in treating the disease as current medicines.

The drug, known as rember, slows progression of the disease by as much as 81per cent.

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 'tangles' that develop in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

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 breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's, which affects 350,000 people in the UK.

The study was carried out by Professor Claude Wischik and colleagues at Aberdeen University.

Prof Wischik, who cofounded TauRx Therapeutics, which is developing the treatment, said: "This is an unprecedented result in the treatment of Alzheimer's.

"We have shown 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.

The trial was a Phase 2 study and experts hope to carry out a final Phase 3 trial next year.

If that trial proves successful, the drug could be available by 2012.

It's hoped it could be widely used in the very earliest stages of the disease, long before patients experience the first symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Professor Clive Ballard, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "This is a major new development in the fight against dementia."

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

(c) 2008 Evening Times; Glasgow (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.