An experimental drug called gantenerumab appears to reduce amyloid levels in patients who have Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new report in Archives of Neurology. The drug is still in development for treatment of the disease and is currently involved in another trial.
Amyloid peptides are a main feature of Alzheimer’s
Amyloid is a general term for protein fragments produced naturally by the body. In Alzheimer’s disease, the fragments build up and form insoluble plaques between nerve cells in the brain. One of the main treatment approaches for Alzheimer’s disease is an attempt to reduce the amount of amyloid in the brain.
Three university medical centers participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which 16 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease received 2 to 7 infusions of intravenous gantenerumab (60 or 200 mg) or placebo every 4 weeks. Positron emission tomographic (PET) scans were conducted at the end of treatment to determine the effect of the drug on the brain.
Compared with the placebo group (4 patients), amyloid levels declined a mean of 15.6% in the six patients who received 60 mg of gantenerumab and 35.7% in the six who took 200 mg. According to the research team, which was led by Susanne Ostrowitzki, MD, from F. Hoffmann-la Roche Ltd. in Switzerland, “Our study demonstrates that two to seven months of treatment with gantenerumab led to dose-dependent amyloid reduction in the brains of patients with AD.”
Research into ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease have taken many paths. Some of the more recent studies have looked at the impact of vitamin C on destroying plaque in the brain, and the ability of huperzine A to improve cognitive function. Studies have also looked at the roles of aluminum, diet, insulin, and a number of natural supplements, including grape seed and green tea, in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
For now, the authors of this latest study noted that “it is still unclear whether any reduction in brain amyloid level will translate into clinical efficacy.” However, a phase 2 clinical trial is already underway to study the affect of gantenerumab on early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ostrowitzki S et al. Archives of Neurology 2011 Oct 10 online; doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2011.1538
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