DAILY PILL HALTS ALZHEIMERS; Amazed: Sandra Sutherland

Daily Mail (London), July 30, 2008 | Go to article overview

DAILY PILL HALTS ALZHEIMERS; Amazed: Sandra Sutherland


Byline: Jenny Hope

A NEW drug halts the devastating progress of Alzheimers disease, scientists claim.

It is said to be more than twice as effective as current treatments. A daily capsule of rember, as the drug is known, stops Alzheimers disease progressing by as much as 81 per cent, according to trial results.

Patients with the brain disorder had no significant decline in their mental function over a 19-month period.

We appear to be bringing the worst affected parts of the brain. . . back to life, said Professor Claude Wischik, who led the research.

It is the first time medication has been developed to target the tangles in the brain that lead to deteriorating memory and other abilities by destroying nerve cells.

The drug helps to disrupt this process, preventing the formation of new tangles and loosening those already created.

Last night the findings were hailed as the biggest breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimers since 1907.

Eventually the drug could be used to stop the disease, which effects 35,000 people in Ireland, in its early stages before symptoms have even appeared.

It could be available to patients within four years. The latest trial was carried out by a team at the University of Aberdeen, led by Professor Wischik, who 20 years ago discovered the tau protein which makes up the tangles. Professor Wischik, who co-founded TauRx Therapeutics, which is developing the treat

ment, said: This is an unprecedented result in the treatment of Alzheimers disease. It is the most significant development in the treatment of the tangles since Alois Alzheimer discovered them in 1907. The study, presented at the International Conference on Alzheimers Disease in Chicago, involved 321 people with mild and moderate Alzheimers disease in Britain and Singapore.

They were divided into four groups, three taking different doses of rember and a fourth group taking a placebo or dummy capsule.

After 50 weeks, those with both mild and moderate Alzheimers who were taking rember experienced 81 per cent less mental decline compared with those on placebo.

Those taking rember did not experience any significant decline in their mental function over 19 months, while those on placebo got worse.

The results suggest the drug is about two and a half times more effective than existing drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors.

Images of the brain showed rember had its biggest effect in the parts of the brain linked to memory, where the density of tau tangles is greatest, with better blood flow to these areas.

The drug works by dissolving the tangle of tau fibres which releases waste products that kill nerve cells, and by preventing the fibres from becoming tangled.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Donald Mowat, who monitored the progress of patients, said they were more confident, better able to cope with daily life and not experiencing the level of mental decline they had expected. …

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