Alzheimer’s research enters crucial phase

August 2, 2022

Research into Alzheimer’s disease entered a crucial phase today, as clinical trial results were presented at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC).

The conference in San Diego gives an overview of clinical trial results for potential drugs for the diseases that cause dementia, as well as top line results on the impact of exercise on cognition in mild cognitive impairment.

Detailed results for anti-amyloid drug crenezumab

The pharmaceutical company Roche has previously announced that its potential Alzheimer’s drug, crenezumab, did not slow or prevent cognitive decline in people with a specific genetic mutation which causes early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The drug is designed to target and eradicate a protein called amyloid from the brain. Amyloid build-up is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

At AAIC, researchers from the US will give a more detailed breakdown of these results, discussing the impact of the drug in study volunteers, and the impact on markers of disease. The trial looked at the effect of the drug on people who carry faults in a gene called PSEN1, which are the most common cause of inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease.

Buntanetap shows improved thinking in small Alzheimer’s trial, and positive signs larger trial for Parkinson’s disease

Researchers found the 10mg and 20mg doses improved people’s mobility the most. This data supported the FDA’s decision to award a phase 3 trial for Parkinson’s disease. Buntanetap shows improved thinking in small Alzheimer’s trial, and positive signs larger trial for Parkinson’s disease

Many potential dementia drugs are designed to clear away protein fragments that stick together and build up into clumps in the brain. Buntanetap (previously known as posiphen) has a different mechanism of action - it aims to limit the production of proteins that cause the sticky fragments in the first place.

Preliminary studies have shown that it can reduce levels of four brain proteins, including the hallmark Parkinson’s protein, alpha-synuclein; and the precursor to the hallmark Alzheimer’s protein, amyloid. This has led to a number of clinical trials, results of which will be presented today at AAIC.

Dementia and exercise

In another study presented at AAIC, researchers in the US looked at the impact of exercise on memory and thinking in people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Participants were split into two groups: one which did stretch and balancing activities, and another which did aerobic intensity training over the course of the study.

For the first 12 months of the study, participants carried out exercise twice a week under supervision and completed unsupervised exercise a further two times a week. Between months 13-18 all their exercise was unsupervised.

There was no decline in memory and thinking in either group over the course of the study. However, compared with people in separate studies, who didn’t carry out an exercise regime, participants performed better on memory and thinking tests after 18 months.

Safety data to be presented for T3D-959 – a drug that targets brain glucose

Researchers from the US will present results from trials of an experimental drug that targets impaired glucose and lipid metabolism, both of which are impaired in Alzheimer’s disease.

The drug called T3D-959 acts to overcome insulin resistance, maintain brain metabolism and keep the brain functioning well. The drug is designed to be taken orally once-a-day for 24-weeks, and researchers are investigating three different doses of the drug - 15g, 30mg, 45mg – and comparing against a placebo.

In a phase 2a trial, researchers will look to see whether the drug improves people’s memory and thinking. They will also look at other measures including markers of disease in the blood and spinal fluid.

The ongoing trial, called PIONEER, started in March 2021, and is looking at over 250 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Speaking about new drug treatments, Dr Rosa Sancho, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, ‘Dementia research is at a crucial phase, particularly in the search for life-changing treatments for people with the disease. Many years of funding pioneering research, backing bright people with bold ideas, has taken us to this point, with several potential Alzheimer’s treatments on the horizon.

But while there are now nearly 150 drugs in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s’ disease, the reality is that, even if any one of these new drugs were to be deemed safe and effective for use in the UK, most people with dementia in this country would still face a significant wait to access them.

‘We need to see urgency from political leaders and the NHS to ensure our health system is ready for a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment that we all hope is imminent. And we hope that the Government’s forthcoming Dementia Strategy sets out a clear and urgent roadmap for action.’

Visit Alzheimer's Research UK website for more insights into the latest news and research projects.

In other news, NHS leaders across England say staffing gaps and a lack of capacity in social care are putting the care and safety of patients in the NHS at risk. The statement is in response to a new NHS survey published this week.

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