A new type of drug may be the answer to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the most common dementia related illness.
Pharmaceutical companies in the United States and abroad have developed methods to fund the Alzheimer’s disease research. They are competing to find ways to slow the progression of the disease which will affect 65 million people by 2030. Latest research showed promising prospects, which brought hopes to millions of Alzheimer’s patients.
Novartis AG plans to ramp up the research for the neurodegenerative disease. Novartis sells Exelon, a drug that breaks down a substance linked to memory and learning to lessen symptoms. It is also used in Parkinson’s disease. Novartis bought an Alzheimer’s vaccine in 2003 from Cytos Biotechnology AG, and complete the mid-stage trial in December.
Novartis is now racing to catch up with New Brunswick Merck and Co. and Roche Holding AG, which are conducting human tests for Alzheimer’s treatment. These pharmaceutical companies are trying to find a solution to slow the disease, but none could deliver, including Baxter International, which released Gammagard this month.
Strides to Combat Alzheimer’s
Prime Minister David Cameroon of UK urged clinicians and scientists to work together to improve treatments and find scientific breakthroughs to address one of the biggest social and healthcare challenges.
Christian Pike and his team from UC Davis School of Gerontology, spearheaded the study on the effects of TSPO ligands on male mice genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer disease. The TSPO ligand’s purpose is to increase the production of steroid hormones.
Davis made sure that the test subjects maintain low testosterone levels and other related hormones by castrating the younger mice, before the treatment while in older mice, the decrease developed as a normal consequence of aging. Pike is looking at the effect of TSPO when the disease is at an early stage, and in older mice when the disease is much more severe. TSPO ligands showed significant improvement on the pathology of the disease and behavior of both ages.
Pike discovered surprising results on older mice who were treated one per week over four weeks. The findings suggested that TSPO ligands could significantly reverse the components of Alzheimer’s disease and have a great potential for use in treatment. Newer ligands are now in test phase for development of treatment for symptoms such as anxiety and other concurrent conditions. Pike stresses that there is a strong possibility that TSPO ligands use in the study can be evaluated for therapeutic efficacy in Alzheimer’s patients within the subsequent years.
More Developments in Research
The University of Oxford study suggests that elderly people could prevent Alzheimer’s disease by taking Vitamin B complex supplements, which have been found to reduce brain shrinkage by 90 percent. Folic acid, Vitamins B12 and B6 can reduce the level of homocysteine, which is a protein component that has a direct link to brain shrinkage in Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions.
Patients with mild cognitive impairment showed better improvement by 50 percent if they take the supplements. This study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Dr David Smith of the National Academy of Science told Daily Telegraph that the atrophy of the specific brain regions may be modified by simple and safe intervention. He adds that keeping the body and brain healthy as we get older is vital and cautioned against drawing conclusions from the early study results.
Another development in research was published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy in Science. Researchers at the Cambridge’s Chemistry Department have identified the molecular trigger for Alzheimer’s disease. A highly toxic chemical called beta-amyloid, which exists in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, has been found to increase the toxicity of other beta-amyloids.
The toxic protein molecule can be a possible trigger to the development of Alzheimer. The toxin can spread to the entire brain and eventually destroys it. This discovery will allow the specialists to carry out early treatment and diagnosis.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas