Novartis to test Alzheimer’s drugs in patients without symptoms

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ZURICH – Novartis said it would test two experimental Alzheimer’s drugs on people with a genetic risk developing , aiming to gauge whether the treatments can or delay symptoms the memory-robbing .

In collaboration with the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, the Swiss company will two therapies in cognitively healthy people who are at risk developing a -up in the brain of amyloid protein, a toxic protein which is believed to cause Alzheimer’s.

Currently approved medications only treat symptoms and there are no licensed drugs can slow the progression of the , which gradually robs patients of their ability to think and care for themselves.

– of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form – already affects 44 people and this total is set to reach 135 by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, a non-profit campaign group.[eap_ad_2]

One of Novartis’s treatments is an immunotherapy, an injectable medicine in Phase II clinical trials which works by stimulating the immune to produce natural antibodies attack amyloid.

The second treatment is a so-called BACE inhibitor drug, an oral pill which is about to enter Phase I trials. This class of treatments work by blocking an enzyme called beta secretase is involved in production of beta-amyloid.

The trial will involve more than 1,300 cognitively healthy patients aged between 60 and 75 and is planned to start this year.

The patients have two genetic copies of apolipoprotein E episilon 4 (APOE4) allele, a gene that contains instructions for making a protein that carries cholesterol and is a well-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. People who get the gene from both parents have a 10-fold risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Drugmakers have been working for years to develop so-called disease-modifying drugs, but it is proving an uphill battle. No new therapies have been approved to treat Alzheimer’s in a decade, according to a recent from researchers at the Cleveland Clinic.

Many scientists increasingly believe the best hope is testing drugs much earlier in the process, before patients’ brains are wrecked by Alzheimer’s. (Reuters)[eap_ad_3]