A study funded by Alzheimer's Society (UK) and led by King's College London has identified four existing drugs and one drug class which could possibly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, or at least slow down the progression. The study is part of an ongoing drug discovery project that aims to accelerate the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s by looking at existing treatments.
The researchers say that medications used to treat hypertension, diabetes and skin conditions could be doubling as treatments for Alzheimer's within a few years. In the study, scientists identified drugs that affect the body in ways that go beyond the intended purpose of the drugs. In essence, they are looking for positive side effects. More research to increase the understanding of how these drugs work and how they could be used to treat Alzheimer's is already underway. At the top of the list of drugs being studied is liraglutide, an injectable drug that reduces the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Liraglutide is used for treating Type 2 diabetes.
There are many newly discovered Alzheimer’s drugs going through clinical trials at this time. Others have just gone through final-stage testing and have not proven to be as effective as hoped. The drug companies are now trying to save their investment by testing the drugs in earlier stages of Alzheimer’s. Still, these drugs, even if proven effective for earlier stage AD, will have to undergo many years of trials before being approved by the FDA.
The drugs the King's College researchers are testing have been proven safe and effective as treatments in humans who have diseases other than Alzheimer’s. That should mean fewer hurdles to for the drugs to be approved for Alzheimer’s, if further testing warrants this step.
The article stresses that while these drugs hold great promise for people with Alzheimer’s disease, much more research is needed. People should not expect their doctors to prescribe the drugs for any condition other than that for which they’ve already been approved until more intense research is done.
These studies do offer hope that approaching Alzheimer’s treatment from different vantage points could pay off. The most common approach is to prevent or alter the characteristic brain plaques and tangles associated with the disease. However, finding a way to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s is too important to work just one angle. Researchers should be open to taking alternate avenues while they search for a cure. Researching drugs that are already safe and effective for humans seems to be a smart approach to take even while research on new drugs continues.
Medical Xpress (2012, November 1) Everyday drugs could combat dementia, according to major study. Retrieved from http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-11-everyday-drugs-combat-dementia-major.html
Published On: November 23, 2012