Alzheimer's drug shows promise in early trial

July 18, 2012
Alzheimer's drug shows promise in early trial
Experimental agent similar to medicines already used to ease symptoms, but more study needed.

(HealthDay News) -- Researchers say an investigational drug helped improve memory, language, attention and other mental skills in people with early Alzheimer's disease.

The study was funded by EnVivo Pharmaceuticals, which is developing the drug, dubbed EVP-6124. The results are to be presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Alzheimer's Association in Vancouver.

The study involved 409 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease who were either being treated with the drugs donepezil (Aricept) or (Exelon) or were receiving no treatment.

During the six-month, phase 2 trial, patients took either a placebo or one of three different doses of EVP-6124.

After 23 weeks of treatment, the patients in the high-dose group showed statistically significant benefits on tests of mental function compared to those taking the . Some patients in the medium- and high-dose groups did experience mild to moderate , the team added.

"In our study, EVP-6124 provided significant benefits for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's whether they were on currently approved therapy or not," Dr. Dana Hilt, senior vice president of clinical development and chief medical officer of EnVivo, said in an Alzheimer's Association news release.

The authors explain that EVP-6124 belongs to a family of drugs called alpha-7 nicotinic , which amplify the effects of acetylcholine, a that's essential for normal brain and . People with Alzheimer's disease have greatly reduced levels of acetylcholine.

Currently, there are no effective treatments to fight Alzheimer's disease, although certain drugs may temporarily ameliorate symptoms.

For that reason, the new study "is potentially interesting, as there is a need for better symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease," said Peter Davies, director of the Litwin Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

He pointed out that the mechanism behind the new drug is not altogether novel. "Treating the deficiency of acetylcholine is the basis for the already approved drugs , Exelon and Razodyne," Davies said. "This drug does the same thing, but in a different way. The other drugs act to reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine: this drug mimics the effect of acetylcholine at one of the receptors for this compound."

He said that there are hints that this approach might do more than just ease symptoms, and might attack the underlying illness. But that remains speculative and "further studies do seem to be warranted," Davies said.

Another expert agreed.

"These promising effects are 'symptomatic' (the drug does not slow progression of disease), and the study is relatively small in size," noted Stephen Ferris, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center and the clinical trials program at NYU Langone Medical Center's Comprehensive Center on Brain Aging in New York City.

Like Davies, Ferris stressed that "if the results can be confirmed in a larger trial, the would be an important addition to current Alzheimer treatments."

Findings presented at medical meeting are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Explore further: Evidence lacking for efficacy of memantine in treating mild Alzheimer's disease

More information: The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer's disease medications.

Related Stories

Evidence lacking for efficacy of memantine in treating mild Alzheimer's disease

April 11, 2011
An analysis of studies involving the drug memantine finds a lack of evidence for benefit when the drug is used to treat patients with mild Alzheimer disease, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the ...

Aricept helps moderate to severe Alzheimer's too

March 8, 2012
Alzheimer's disease patients who are taking a commonly prescribed drug can still benefit from it after they progress to moderate-to-severe illness, when it can be tough to tell whether it's doing any good, a new study says.

Recommended for you

Canola oil linked to worsened memory and learning ability in Alzheimer's

December 7, 2017
Canola oil is one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils in the world, yet surprisingly little is known about its effects on health. Now, a new study published online December 7 in the journal Scientific Reports by researchers ...

Genetics study suggests that education reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease

December 7, 2017
The theory that education protects against Alzheimer's disease has been given further weight by new research from the University of Cambridge, funded by the European Union. The study is published today in the BMJ.

Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer's

December 6, 2017
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and neurodegeneration worldwide. A major hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of toxic plaques in the brain, formed by the abnormal aggregation of a protein called ...

Alzheimer's damage in mice reduced with compound that targets APOE gene

December 6, 2017
People who carry the APOE4 genetic variant face a substantial risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

Lithium in water associated with slower rate of Alzheimer's disease deaths

December 5, 2017
Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, also decrease if there is a particular amount of lithium in the water, says the study, published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer's ...

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

December 5, 2017
A new Tel Aviv University study reveals that hyperbaric oxygen treatments may ameliorate symptoms experienced by patients with Alzheimer's disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.