This week’s news has brought several stories that offer hope to Alzheimer’s patients and their carers. An experimental drug, Rember™, being developed by TauRx Therapeutics has been shown to slow progression of the disease. Rember™ is a new formulation of an old drug, methylene blue. The drug reduces the abnormal tangles of tau protein that are found in Alzheimer’s patients and thought to contribute to the disease. These tangles destroy neurons and their presence is strongly correlated with dementia. The company hopes to carry out further trials and, if these are successful, Rember™ could become available to patients in 2012.
Other researchers have also reported encouraging results for an experimental drug that targets tau tangles. AL-108 (Allon Therapeutics) is derived from an eight amino acid peptide (NAPVSIPQ: “NAP”) synthesized from a naturally occurring neuroprotective brain protein known as activity dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP). The drug was tested in people with mild cognitive impairment and improved specific memory functions that are relevant in Alzheimer’s Disease.
In separate reports, angiotensin receptor antagonists and statins have both been linked with improved symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients.
Research suggests that people taking angiotensin receptor antagonists to treat hypertension are up to 45% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. The research was carried out by scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine and presented at the 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Chicago. People taking the cholesterol lowering drugs known as statins for 5-7 years were also found to be at reduced risk of developing dementia according to a study published in the July issue of Neurology. (Neurology, Jul 2008; 71: 344 – 350)