After a major breakthrough, a drug to treat Alzheimer’s could be just five years away.
Scientists have found that by destroying certain immune cells reduced the formation of a toxic protein which leads to the disease forming. This new way of understanding of the way Alzheimer’s works at a molecular level could finally lead to therapies that treat the underlying causes of this devastating illness.
At the moment, experts are trying to develop a “disease-modifying” dementia therapy by 2025. However, Professor Michael Heneka, who has led the research at the University of Bonn, Germany, said a drug to stop the disease progressing could actually come sooner. He said: “I would hope this could be tested in the next five to 10 years.”
Due to extensive research into the brain-washing condition, it has been found that Amyloid beta is the rogue protein at the heart of the condition. All previous trials have targeted the clumps of protein that build up and what causes the sufferers damaging their memories. Research has suggested that they are fuelled by inflammation which causes the specific immune cells, called microglia, to release specks of a protein called ASC – which stick to the proteins and cause the clumps to develop.
A number of tests have been carried out on cells grown in a laboratory showed that an antibody blocking ASC from binding to amyloid stopped it from actually forming into the clumps, which has suggested that the illness can be frozen.
Dr Sara Imarisio, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Researchers are building a picture of the precise interplay between the immune system and the brain, and this new study adds an important piece to this puzzle.
“By using a sophisticated combination of experiments, these researchers have examined the molecular players linking the immune system and the build-up of amyloid protein from all angles. Research like this is crucial for identifying new avenues to explore in the hunt for new treatments that can slow or halt damaging changes in the brain.” She added:
“Drugs that act against the immune system have real potential to limit damage in Alzheimer’s.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and usually starts with forgetfulness and can progress to complete loss of memory causing the greatest distress to anyone involved. Recent analysis has shown that the disease is more feared than cancer in people aged over 45. Additionally, research has also shown that it doubles in frequency every five years above the age of 65.
There are around a dozen anti-amyloid drugs currently in late-stage trials but, until now, hope has rested on an experimental drug called aducanumab, a monthly antibody infusion that destroys the build-up of plaques. The test results are due to be published by US drug-maker Biogen in 2019.
This breakthrough could be completely life-changing for families. However, in the meantime, there is still an issue with those with Alzheimer’s not receiving the care they actually need. Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s can often be left with exceptional high care needs due to the complex health issues that can be associated with this disease. In England and Wales where an individual’s primary need for care is a health need, there is funding available known as continuing healthcare provided by the NHS to meet their care costs in full. Here at Compass CHC, we can help you or a loved one obtain continuing healthcare funding, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.