New Alzheimer’s drug can ‘remove’ harmful proteins associated with the degenerative disease, experts claim
Experts have hailed a ‘significant step forward’ in the quest for an Alzheimer’s treatment after a drug was found to remove harmful proteins linked to the condition.
Tau is one of the main proteins linked with the disease, forming ‘tangles’ which can interfere with brain cells and slow the ability to think and remember.
Now, for the first time, researchers have been able to lower levels of the protein with a ‘gene silencing’ approach.
The team from University College London studied 46 patients with an average age of 66 who had mild Alzheimer’s and elevated levels of tau.
Most had three doses of a drug called BIIB080 injected into their nervous system and the rest had a placebo.
Experts have hailed a ‘significant step forward’ in the quest for an Alzheimer’s treatment after a drug was found to remove harmful proteins linked to the condition. [File image]
The drug was designed to help prevent production of the protein by ‘silencing’ the gene that codes for it.
The journal Nature Medicine reported that those who received the highest dose had a 50 per cent reduction in levels of tau in their central nervous system after 24 weeks with no serious side-effects.
Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Executive Director of Research & Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Previous research has shown that the build-up of a protein called tau in the brain is linked with neurodegeneration and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
‘In this early-stage trial, researchers used a new type of approach to cause a drug to ‘switch-off’ a gene called the MAPT gene, which makes the tau protein.
‘This reduced the levels of tau in people with mild Alzheimer’s disease suggesting that the drug was hitting the correct target. The drug also appeared to be safe at the doses given in this small-scale trial.
The drug was designed to help prevent production of the protein by ‘silencing’ the gene that codes for it. [File image]
‘These early findings are promising but there is much more to be done. The next steps for this, work are to repeat the study in a larger, more diverse population. ‘The great news is, further work is already underway.
‘A phase 2 trial of this drug is currently aiming to enrol 700 people and seeing this work replicated in this next trial and larger studies will be vital if we’re to see this treatment approach reach the clinic.
‘It’s an incredibly exciting time in dementia research with each new finding bringing us closer to new treatments. Research like this shows just how vital clinical trials are if we’re to make a real difference to the lives of people affected by dementia.
‘With more work like this, research will pave the way towards a cure.’
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