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Miracle pill could spare half a million people the ills of Alzheimer's

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Experts say that new and exciting research on a drug to combat brain plaques could lead to a readily available pill within five years. The new Alzheimer's drug, presently called MK-8931 could reduce a crucial component of the disease by as much as 90 percent is set to be tested on thousands of patients.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The drug would enable nearly half a million people within the United Kingdom  deemed at "high risk" of developing Alzheimer's due to  memory problems in late middle age.

Alzheimer's patient typically have clumps or plaques of a substance called amyloid beta protein stuck to brain cells. This leads to memory loss, motor function and can drastically effect behavior.

Results from a previous three-month study of 200 patients proves that the drug reduces these amyloid plaques by up to 90 percent. Furthermore, both healthy volunteers and Alzheimer's patients took the drug without any serious side effects.

The new trials will include more than 3,000 patients in 21 countries, including the United Kingdom.

The first 18-month phase of the study will enroll 1,960 patients with an already significant plaque build-up. The second study, lasting two years, will include 1,500 patients who are at an earlier stage, with memory difficulties.

"If the trials prove it works, it will have to go through licensing procedures, so it will probably take about five years to become available," Dr. Craig Ritchie of Imperial College, one of the international team of researchers says. The drug is being developed as a pill so that it will be easy to take.

"Around 80 percent of those developing Alzheimer's would be eligible, getting on for 400,000 to half a million people," he said.

known as a BACE inhibitor, or Beta Amyloid precursor protein site-Cleaving Enzyme inhibitor is an enzyme that removes the sticky amyloid.

The trials must show the anti-amyloid effect actually makes a difference to Alzheimer's patients and prevents it from developing in those who merely have memory problems.

"The aim is to intervene before symptoms take hold," Dr. Ritchie, an honorary consultant at the West London Mental Health NHS Trust. "People with memory problems aren't definitely going to get Alzheimer's but there's a high likelihood it will affect two-thirds to three-quarters.

"Other BACE inhibitors have not got far in development."

He adds that this is an entirely new method to combat the condition. "Stopping the formation of plaque early on, when the clumps are small and most toxic, is a fresh approach.

"There is a great deal of excitement around this in the academic and medical community but there is a huge amount of work to do."



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