Progress in Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease
The 12th Alzheimer’s Association International conference took place in Vancover last month. It is a reminder that the quest to find answers for Alzheimer’s disease is, thankfully, not standing still. Scientist from all over the world are looking at progress on drug trials, scrutinizing each others research papers and validating protocols for harmonising practice to help in the search for a cure.
One of the major areas of progress has been work by an international panel of experts who have been developing the first global protocol for measuring a key region of the brain tied to memory, the hippocampus. Scientists hope that through showing the differences between healthy and diseased brain tissue in this area using the same agreed protocol will prove to be a key biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. A good example of hippocampal research is the use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans to measure changes showing atrophy (death of brain cells) in that area. Scientist believe they can then use this fast growing technology to identify people most at risk of progression to Alzheimer’s and to select people for further research.
Following the disappointment of Pfizer’s Bapineuzumab drug which failed to show any significant slowing or reversing Alzheimer’s decline in late-stage trials, the Alzheimer’s conference reported on other drugs in the pipeline.
In one study Dana Hilt, MD, Senior Vice President of Clinical Development and Chief Medical Officer of EnVivo Pharaceuticals and colleagues have been reserching EVP-6124 a selective, partial, alpha-7 nicotinic agonist. In a 6 month phase 2b study it was found to have demonstrated cognitive benefits. The results mean that a phase 3 study should proceed.
More good news was around a medicinal food called Souvenaid (Nutricia/Danone), which in a randomized controlled study showed positive results on memory performance that was apparently sustained for a year. In an Italian study, citicoline a dietary supplement, was reported to increase the availability of certain neurotransmitters and to be beneficial to people with mild vascular cognitive impairment.
More information is available on these and other studies is available at the ALzheimer's Association International conference PDF.