HOPE ON THE HORIZON JULY 10, 2018
A weekly rumination on the current news concerning dementia
Drug companies Eisai and Biogen announce that a top-dose of BAN2401 is showing positive results in reducing Alzheimer’s symptoms and slowing disease progression.
Could this be the report we have been waiting for? Perhaps, but don’t hold your breath. The drug BAN2401 is designed to attack the beta amyloid proteins that many think are primarily responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. However, as many as 200 drugs that have been designed around this amyloid hypothesis have failed tests and been discarded. That fact does not in itself doom this drug to failure, but it give some historical perspective.
If you follow Hope on the Horizon you know that I am not a big fan of the aforementioned amyloid hypothesis; but I could be wrong. In this case I hope I am. This latest report was just released, and this week I am more interested in some of the media coverage than in the announcement itself.
July 05, 2018 | Biogen Inc.) | Press Release
From the relsease: “The final analysis at 18 months of the 856 patient Phase II clinical study in early Alzheimer’s disease demonstrated statistically significant slowing in clinical decline and reduction of amyloid beta accumulated in the brain.” This after less than satisfactory results following 12 months. The markers here are a “slowing in decline” and “reduction of amyloid beta”. Results were only significant on the highest dosage. As exciting as this is, Biogen Chairman Stelios Papadopoulos warns against over-optimism: “It’s not as if we improved the condition or we stabilized even the cognitive decline. We’ve slowed down the cognitive decline.” Perhaps the most significant result is that the test results do offer some credibility to the amyloid hypothesis.
The announcement has met with a lukewarm reception from other experts.
July 6, 2018 | Investor’s Business Daily | ALLISON GATLIN
The Investor’s Business Daily did an adequate job of reporting the facts of the Biogen study, as well as of the historical difficulty of finding a cure or even a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel as I read their article that the report’s effect on the stock market are more important to them than than the possible medical breakthrough. OK, I’m a bit cynical; I admit that.But according to this publication as a result of Biogen’s annoluncement, “stock jumped 19.6% to close at 357.48 but had surged to an intraday high of 367.89 for a gain of 23.1% at one point.”
And CNBC chimed in with”Biogen shares soared Friday on the positive study results, closing nearly 20 percent higher.”
BAN2401 is one of several drugs that Biogen has in testing or scheduled for testing. Another is aducanumab which is currently in clinical testing. Aducanumab shows potential and could be one of our best hopes to date at a truly effect Alzheimer’s medication. But, according to Ajay Verma, Chief Medical Officer at United Neurosciences, it “could be expensive, since it would be the first treatment to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. “I think the challenge is, will it be a solution or just for the rich?”
OK, I understand that money is a necessary component for research and development, but to me these issues point toward a growing need to de-privatize healthcare. I would love to hear your thoughts on this; how we solve our healthcare problems will surely define us for decades to come.
July 2, 2018 | The Journal of Neuroscience | Abstract
It is early to get terribly excited about this, but I admit, it is a bit exciting. Could we finally find this elusive cure in something as mundane as Aspirin? A team of Researchers at Rush Medical Center in Chicago report they were able to clear amyloid plaques from the brains of mice that were genetically engineered for Alzheimer’s. Aspirin stimulates one of the bodies natural waste disposal systems to work better clearing the plaques. This certainly bears watching.
Also in medical news this week
June 29 | Journal of the American Physiological Society
Obesity + Aging Linked to Alzheimer’s Markers in the Brain
I see some problems with this study
July 6, 2018 | Journal of the American Physiological Society
A gene linked to job-related exhaustion in shift workers increases the risk of Alzheimer’s
July 06, 2018 | Patty Santos | KSAT abc
UTSA scientists using ‘mini brains’ to research complex, incurable brain disorders
The brain is extremely complex; that complexity is part of the reason that brain diseases are so hard to get a handle on. Researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio are using these ‘mini brains’ to make understanding easier.
June 29th, 2018 | NPR | Kevin Fryling
This story demonstrates the importance of a support group for dementia care providers and provides some hints to help make your care more productive. It’s worth a read especially if you have considered creating a support group.
Even with recent failed drug trials I am more optimistic now about our likelihood of finding an Alzheimer’s treatment that is, for all practical purposes, a cure. But it has to be administered long before disease symptoms are noticeable.
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- Dear John and Holly, I’d like to work for you…seriously! I first heard about your business on the “Made in Chicago” segment on WBBM radio a few months back. I too, am interested in exactly the same thing you are, the quality of life for people with dementia. (…) Thank you though, so much for putting this site, and your products in one spot. And I am sooooo glad that Bernice has you! Janice