New Target For Alzheimer's Drug

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

This is an exciting story but needs to be embraced with proper expectations. The New York Times is reporting on research scheduled to publish tomorrow in Nature, that a promising new target has been identified for treating Alzheimer's disease.

The target is a protein that activates the role of gamma secretase in producing beta amyloid in the brain. Following the recent failure of Eli Lilly's phase III drug that inhibited gamma secretase, and the ensuing round of questions that the failure spawned about the validity of the amyloid hypothesis, this is fantastic news.

This finding points to a potential refinement of current thinking. It is clear that gamma secretase has multiple roles, some of which are neuro-protective and others which lead to overproduction of beta amyloid. As a treatment hypothesis, we are aiming to reduce the production of beta amyloid but inhibiting gamma secretase is apparently too crude of an approach. It seems as though the downside of inhibiting gamma secretase is greater than the upside, and two drugs based on that approach, have previously failed to show clinical benefits.

With the discovery of this new protein, it is suggested that we might be able to turn off the harmful activities of gamma secretase while allowing its beneficial activities to continue. This portends great hope.

One word of caution, to which I alluded in the opening. This science is a long way from being validated which is only the first step in a long FDA process to commercialization. If this discovery eventually turns out to be part of an effective treatment, that treatment is still many years from commercial availability.
A better understanding and more awareness of Alzheimer's related issues can impact personal health decisions and generate significant impact across a population of aging individuals. Please use the share buttons below to spread this educational message as widely as possible.

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