HOPE ON THE HORIZON AUGUST 7, 2018
A weekly rumination on the current news concerning dementia
Is it time to move beyond investing in drugs that seek to stop Alzheimer’s progression by reducing amyloid plaques in the brain? I believe it is, and I am not alone in this. In fact, I think we might have a non-invasive, non-drug solution that is as effective as the drugs now being used and tested. It is on my desk.
Biogen’s announcement at the AAIC a couple of weeks ago was a bit disappointing, especially for Biogen, I am sure. The news wasn’t all bad – in fact their drug BAN2401 did meet the goals established for phase-three testing. On the other hand, Biogen stock dropped precipitously following the long-anticipated news. This devaluation hinges mostly on dwindling confidence in the amyloid hypothesis, by both investors and researchers.
That certainly doesn’t mean that we should give up trying. There are other avenues of research that may prove more fruitful. Now that we are beyond the hype and anticipation of BAN2401, let’s look at some alternatives that have recently come to light.
- There is at least one new drug trial getting under way, one that does not directly target brain plaques.
- Alzheimer’s researchers are looking with more interest at the body’s own defense mechanisms to fight even diseases like Alzheimer’s, including the lymphatic system. Another natural defense is microglia, cells that clear waste material from the brain, and which, for some reason, become dormant in Alzheimer’s. We will be talking more about these important cells in weeks to come.
- An announcement at the Alzheimer’s Association Conference further indicates that maintaining our health may be our best protection against dementia. Below are some ways to do that.
Aug 1, 2018 | Biohaven Pharmaceutical Press Release
Biohaven’s drug trigriluzole is a glutamate modulator, as opposed to the “plaque busters” that have gotten the majority of research funding and press coverage. Glutamate modulators are a relatively new form of antipsychotic drug, but the company claims that it “potentially offers neuroprotective effects at the level of the synapse as well as improved synaptic functioning, mechanisms that could exert both symptomatic and disease-modifying effects in AD.”
“Howard Feldman, MD, FRCP, Director of the ADCS and Professor of Neurosciences at University of California San Diego School of Medicine added, ‘We are excited that the first patient has been enrolled into this innovative clinical trial that we are conducting with Biohaven. The preclinical evidence for the active metabolite of trigriluzole to modulate glutamate and confer neuroprotective effects in patients with AD is compelling, and the new formulation of trigriluzole should improve its pharmaceutical properties with potential for efficacy in AD.'”
Aug 2, 2018 | University of Virginia | Josh Barney
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that improving the performance of the lymphphatic system in old mice improved cognitive ability. The lymphatic system consists of vessels that eliminate waste from the body. The team believes that improving flow in these vessels might delay onset of Alzheimer’s long enough that treatment would become unnecessary.
We have written about the hypertension as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and some other conditions that cause dementia (see, for example, Can We Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?) Further confirmation of that likely connection comes this week from an investigation of the effects of five drug classes on dementia incidence. The general conclusion was that controlling blood pressure can delay dementia symptoms.
January 5, 2018 | Science Daily | University of Eastern Finland
We missed this story in January: thanks to The Mice Times of Asia for bringing it to our attention. Researchers in Finland report that sauna has many benefits, including dementia prevention. One of the best-known health benefits of enjoying a sauna is blood pressure reduction, and we are pretty sure that this can protect us from AD (above).
Aug 1, 2018 | BMJ
Middle-aged teetotalers may be more at risk for developing dementia than those who partake moderately in alcohol consumption. This from a report published in the British Medical Journal, not in the journal Wine Enthusiast, as you might suspect. But don’t get carried away. Over consumption of alcoholic beverages can increase dementia risk.
Aug 1, 2018 | Business Insider | Hilary Brueck
More evidence that this lovely spice is more than just a pretty food. Cancer researcher Ajay Goel recently told Business Insider, turmeric is, to the best of my knowledge, the most potent naturally occurring anti-inflammatory.”
Goel went on to say: “Taking supplements won’t ever be as good as eating whole foods. Studies have found that whole turmeric provides an extra anti-inflammatory boost over curcumin alone.”
Aug 3, 2018 | Business Insider | Clifton Leaf
And in a lighthearted article that is probably more editorial than reporting, we learn that elephants may someday lead us to understand better how to avoid memory disorders.(Elephants really do have amazing memories) It is worth reading, and what we learn, according to this author, is that the social aspects of elaphnatine society is what may offer a clue. Being social is one of the things we know to protect against Alzheimer’s. See our article Preventing Alzheimer’s.
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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