Tablet that ‘switches off’ production of toxic amyloid proteins could be first treatment licensed in a decade if it is also shown to slow mental decline
Article from The Guardian, written by Hannah Devlin, Science correspondent, on
An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach.
A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
If the tablet, produced by pharmaceutical giant Merck, is also shown to slow the pace of mental decline – a crucial question that a major clinical trial should answer when it reports next year – it could be the first treatment for Alzheimer’s to be licensed in more than a decade.
Prof John Hardy, a neuroscientist at UCL who first proposed that amyloid proteins play a central role in Alzheimer’s disease, welcomed the results. “People are excited,” he said. “This is a very nice drug and I’m sure Merck are feeling very pleased with themselves.”
Matt Kennedy, who led the trial at Merck, said: “Today there are very limited therapeutic options available for people with Alzheimer’s disease, and those that exist provide only short-term improvement to the cognitive and functional symptoms. They do not directly target the underlying disease processes. There is an urgent need for [these].”
The new therapy is designed to do this by halting the steady production of amyloid-beta proteins, which are known to clump together in sticky plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. A leading theory of Alzheimer’s is that the accumulating proteins kill off healthy neurons, eventually leading to memory loss, cognitive decline and changes to personality.
Read the complete article at The Guardian