New drug targets the tangles caused by Alzheimer's

Published 30 July 2008

New research gives hope that a new drug, called Rember, could help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, by tackling the protein tangles that cause brain cell death.

Initial research suggests that Rember slows cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's and could be over twice as effective as current treatments.

Tau is a protein that helps brain cells keep their structure and communicate with each other. In people with dementia this protein becomes tangled and it causes brain cell death.

Studies in specially designed mice have shown that Rember reduces the tangles and improves cognition, but trials in humans have so far only suggested Rember slows cognitive decline.

Prof Clive Ballard, director of research, says:   

This is a major new development in the fight against dementia. It is the first realistic evidence that a new drug can slow cognition decline in people with Alzheimer's, by targeting the protein tangles that cause brain cell death.

This first modestly sized trial in humans is potentially exciting. It suggests the drug could be over twice as effective as any treatment that is currently available.

However we are not there yet. Larger scale trials are now needed to confirm the safety of this drug and establish how far it could benefit the thousands of people living with this devastating disease.

Information on further clinical trials:

At this stage the Alzheimer's Society does not have any more information about further trials in the UK. Unfortunately, getting onto a clinical trial is not straightforward and there is no specific way of getting onto one. Generally any doctor or scientist doing research will draw up the criteria for the volunteers they want. This usually involves them being quite local to keep travel and costs down. They would then approach local hospitals and GP's to find suitable people.

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