Science Snippet: Hopeful Findings in AD Clinical Trials

Finding drugs to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) continues to challenge researchers. More than 400 clinical trials of 250 drug compounds have, for all practical purposes, failed. A few drugs are on the market that may temporarily slow dementia, but after about a year of treatment the patient continues his or her slide into oblivion. The good news is that scientists continue to learn more about the biology of AD and recently a new antibody drug called aducanumab appears to diminish the number of toxic masses (“plaques”) in the AD brain and slow down the loss of mental function. Large human trials using the drug are slated to begin this year. There is more hopeful news. In mice bred to show AD, a powerful antioxidant is proving effective against plaque-induced cell damage. Other studies show that ultrasound treatment may be helpful in breaking down toxic plaque in patients with AD. In summary, although there have been lots of failures in drug treatment of AD, scientists continue to work hard to find ways to stop its progress. (Mind, Mood, and Memory, 2015, June issue, a publication of the Massachusetts General Hospital; other sources).

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