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Drug could reverse buildup of Alzheimer's, study shows

Published 15 July 2013

The buildup of proteins thought to be the key hallmark of Alzheimer's disease could be reversed by a new drug, according to research presented at Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2013.

A study by the pharmaceutical company Merck involved the use of the drug MK-8391, an experimental compound which is part of the BACE1 inhibitor class of drugs. Scientists administered doses of 12, 40 or 60-mg or placebo daily for seven days to participants and tested levels of beta amyloid in cerebrospinal fluid by lumbar puncture. Results showed that amyloid levels in participants who received 12 and 40mg doses of MK-8391 reduced by between 50 and 100 per cent.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'This is an incredibly exciting avenue for treatment. By reversing the buildup of amyloid plaques which are the hallmark of Alzheimer's, this class of drug could prove a gamechanger for dementia treatment. However, it is very early days for this drug and we need larger more robust studies to establish whether this potential treatment is safe and effective for people with dementia.

'One in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia, but there are 150 times more treatments for late stage cancer than there are for Alzheimer's. We need an all out fightback to defeat dementia. More research into potential treatments such as this is absolutely vital.'

Dr Doug Brown
Director of Research
Alzheimer's Society