Promising Alzheimer's Drugs on the Horizon

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

While we often emphasize the importance of non-pharmacologic therapies for treating Alzheimer's disease, more effective drugs could have an enormous, positive impact on our ability to combat its looming threat. A such, here is a brief summary of three of the most promising treatments in the FDA pipeline.

All three of these agents operate on the amyloid hypothesis which holds that, an accumulation of beta-amyloid, a naturally occurring protein in the brain, is the cause of Alzheimer's disease. While two recent trials on agents developed to reduce the production of beta-amyloid have failed, these three are intended to remove beta-amyloid from the brain.

Two similar drugs are Solanezumab and Bapineuzumab. Both are anti-bodies that attach to amyloid and then carry it away when they are flushed out of the body by the immune system. Solanezumab most likely operates outside of the brain which may lead to better tolerance than Bapineuzumab, which had more evidence of efficacy in its earlier stage studies. Each trial is well underway and the first published data should be forthcoming in late 2011 or early 2012.

Gammagard is Baxter's intraveneous immunoglobulin or IVIG, which also relies on removing amyloid through immune system mechanisms. IVIG is already on the market but with no approved claims for treating Alzheimer's disease.

There are certainly other approaches in the pipeline, some of which may bring better results in a shorter time frame than the three highlighted here. But these seem to have the strongest theoretical underpinnings and have bred the most optimism in the scientific community.
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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