A "low dose aspirin" for dementia? Drug ready for the first test in humans



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LEXINGTON, Kentucky (April 2, 2019) – Alzheimer's disease causes emotional devastation in patients who are stripped of their memories, dignity and lives. It's also catastrophic financially: care for Alzheimer's patients is expected to exceed $ 1 trillion by about the same time as children born today. ##################################################################### They will have children of their own.

To date, very little success has been recorded in the search for a cure. But a drug that examines Alzheimer's disease from a different angle is now ready for its first set of tests in humans,

The vast majority of AD treatments currently approved by the FDA or in the course of treatment are targeted at amyloid, responsible for plaques that impair cognition. As the so – called "amyloid theory" produced a drug failure after the other, scientists began to explore other therapeutic avenues. Linda Van Eldik, director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky, has headed for a more or less studied, but (according to her) more promising target: inflammation of the brain .

"The inflammation is normally a" good guy. "It eliminates infections and helps heal wounds, for example," said Van Eldik. "But in Alzheimer's disease, the inflammation disappears.It becomes too strong and lasts too long – it is now transformed into" villain ", destroying the neurons that carry the signals of a part of the brain to the other. "

Van Eldik began collaborating with Martin Watterson of Northwestern University to identify a drug that would block "bad" brain inflammation without affecting the "good" inflammation that helps repair the brain quickly.

After years of research, Van Eldik is ready to test this drug – enigmatically named MW-151 – in humans. The National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation are so intrigued that they have bet $ 5.5 million to fund its efforts.

This is quite a feat: according to current estimates, out of five to ten thousand compounds entering the process of drug discovery, only five will participate in a clinical trial on humans.

Even if the MW-151 exceeds the considerable probabilities faced by any potential new drug, it will still take years for it to be available to the public. If the drug eventually turns out safe and effective, Van Eldik thinks that the MW-151 will work as a once-a-day pill that avoids dementia, much like a baby aspirin prescribed to prevent a heart attack. or a stroke.

This could change the game in the fight against AD. According to the Alzheimer's Association, delaying the onset of dementia by just five years would reduce the incidence by nearly half, which would result in tremendous financial and emotional savings for patients and their families.

Van Eldik does not consider the MW-151 a miracle solution.

"It's a very complex disease," she warns. "A unique approach – even our approach against inflammation – might not be enough."

"I think this drug will be the most effective in the context of a" cocktail "of drugs targeting several mechanisms of the disease.If it worked, my boy would be a slam dunk."

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The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, founded at the University of Kentucky in 1972, quickly established itself as a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of life of older people through the research and education.

Sanders-Brown has been instrumental in several major advances related to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, including the discovery of changes in the brain decades before the onset of external symptoms. disease.

In 1985, Sanders-Brown was among the top 10 Alzheimer's treatment centers funded by the National Institutes of Health. There are currently only 31 designated Alzheimer's disease centers in the United States, and only nine – including Sanders-Brown – have been funded on a continuous basis since the launch of the designation.

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