Experimental Alzheimer's drug shows early promise

July 29, 2008 5:46:30 PM PDT
An experimental drug that takes a whole new approach to halting the progression of Alzheimer's disease is showing early signs it works. That report is generating a lot of excitement in Chicago at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease.

The drug is made by a Singapore-based company called TauRx.

Other experimental treatments focus on slowing the accumulation of proteins in the brain. The drug called Rember is among a new class of Alzheimer's treatments that instead target the fibrous tangles in the brain caused by an abnormal build up of the protein tau. Researchers say patients on the drug were able to maintain their mental performance. The greatest hope is the drug can stop Alzheimer's in its earliest form.

"The fact that we can hit the disease with tau-aggregation inhibitor therapy in that place that it starts to give us hope that it would be possible to arrest progression of this disease from early stages," said Dr. Claude Wischik, chairman of TauRx Therapeutics and professor in mental health at the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom.

Researchers say the drug they are working with is a form of a medication that's been around for years to treat ailments such as urinary tract infections. The older form is called methylene blue, but researchers advise against desperate caregivers using the medication off-label to Alzheimer's patients. The version being studied is considered a pure form and more research is still needed.


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