New treatments for Alzheimer’s
New treatments for Alzheimer’s are welcomed by patients and doctors. Nobody needs a string of statistics to understand how devastating Alzheimer’s can be for patients, their loved ones and society. Treatments for the condition have been notable in their scarcity, particularly after one of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the world pulled out of the market entirely.
Confusion and memory loss are common symptoms of the disease. Studies in mince have shown that specific areas of the brain,
particularly the dentate gyrus, are critical to the processing of memories. The dentate gyrus was also shown to be one of the few parts of the brain to keep developing neurons, even into later life.
The Society for Neuroscience’s last annual conference shared research that suggests the same processes may be happening in humans. If it is proven, it may open up novel treatment paths to fight the disease.
Neurons may hold the key
The research shared showed that there may well be a link between the neurons in mice and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown that memory could be improved in mice by encouraging neurogenesis.
Understanding the same processes in humans is sadly very difficult. MRI scanners cannot image individual neurons. Taking brain samples from the living is also not possible. That in turn limits scientists to sampling brain tissue post-mortem.
The available data is, however, also contradictory, which many studies seeking to understand neurogenesis also failing to find compelling evidence the process is happening. The picture is sadly very unclear.
Some of the most recent research suggests that the production of new neurons may slow with age, then fall rapidly when Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. However, some of the neurons found also appeared to be very different from the same neurons in healthy brains.
The new drugs being tested
One pharmaceutical firm, Biomed Industries, presented research that suggested a new drug that increases neurogenesis in mice, also improved memory in people with Alzheimer’s.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials showed positive patient outcomes with few adverse events. Based on the studies, the neurogenesis hypothesis has been shown to be a viable approach for further research for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Major Depressive Disorder.
The drug being tested (“NA-831”) is a small molecule drug that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, which apparently does not show the toxicity and serious side effects that some Alzheimer’s treatments show.
“With over 6 million patients suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease in the US, with no effective treatment for them, coupled with 21
million patients suffering with MDD, where current treatments come with severe adverse events, we are optimistic that the Neurogenesis approach can be a major breakthrough in treatment”, said Lloyd L. Tran, CEO of Biomed Industries.