COM­MEN­TARY New ther­a­pies for Alzheimer’s of­fer hope

The Covington News - - Health & wellness -

Alzheimer’s dis­ease is ex­pected to af­fect an es­ti­mated 14 mil­lion Amer­i­can by the year 2050, and while there are med­i­ca­tions that im­prove symp­toms and slow de­cline for a brief pe­riod, the search con­tin­ues for ways to pre­vent as well as to coun­ter­act the on­slaught of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive pro­gres­sion that so men­tally, emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally dev­as­tates fam­i­lies who are touched by its hor­rific ef­fects. Ad­vances in many fields — ge­net­ics, molec­u­lar bi­ol­ogy and bio­engi­neer­ing — now of­fer new find­ings that are cause for cau­tious op­ti­mism. The cur­rent par­a­digm is that in AD dev­as­tat­ing brain changes re­sult from the in­ter­ac­tion of sev­eral fac­tors, and many cut­ting edge drug ther­a­pies are fo­cus­ing on one as­pect of cau­sa­tion with the in­tent to dis­turb the chain of pro­cesses that ends in de­men­tia. Ac­cord­ing to the Oc­to­ber 2007 is­sue of “ Mind, Mood, and Me­mory,” pub­lished by Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hospi­tal, the fol­low­ing rep­re­sent five of the most promis­ing new drugs worth keep­ing track of as they progress through var­i­ous stages of clin­i­cal tri­als.

Alzhemed in­ter­feres with the amal­ga­ma­tion of plaque in the brain ( a hall­mark of those with AD) and in­hibits in­flam­ma­tory re­sponses as­so­ci­ated with such ac­cu­mu­la­tion. Re­sults of con­trolled, ran­dom­ized tri­als in­volv­ing large groups of pa­tients are now be­ing as­sessed in an­tic­i­pa­tion of pub­lic re­lease.

Flur­izan low­ers the pro­duc­tion of an amino acid in­volved in the for­ma­tion of a toxic pro­tein. In small tri­als ( groups of up to 300 peo­ple), this drug, at high lev­els, has been shown to im­prove over­all func­tion­ing in cases of mild AD. Ran­dom­ized tri­als in­volv­ing large groups of pa­tients are cur­rently in progress.

Ke­ta­syn pro­vides an al­ter­nate en­ergy source to the cells us­ing ke­tone bod­ies to re­place scarce glu­cose. In AD, neu­rons are dam­aged by a de­cline in lev­els of glu­cose, which sup­plies en­ergy to cells. Taken as a drink each morn­ing, it has proven ef­fec­tive in sig­nif­i­cantly slow­ing dis­ease pro­gres­sion in those with­out ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion to AD.

Dime­bon pro­tects brain cells from pro­cesses as­so­ci­ated with cell death. Af­ter six months, those who re­ceived the drug im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly in cog­ni­tive func­tion, me­mory, abil­ity to per­form tasks of daily liv­ing, global func­tion and be­hav­ior as com­pared to those who re­ceived a placebo. Longer tri­als are un­der­way to as­sess ef­fec­tive­ness and safety over time.

Rap­ineuzumab shows prom­ise in terms of at­tach­ing to plaque tithing the brain and elim­i­nat­ing it from the body. Tri­als us­ing small groups of up to 300 pa­tients each are in progress.

Peggy Nolen

Colum­nist

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