Latimer: New research in Alzheimer’s disease

To date we haven’t got any treatments that do much to reverse or even slow the degenerative progress of Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer’s disease is a frightening condition with rates quickly going up across North America because of an aging population. Not only is it a distressing diagnosis for those it affects, but it is placing an increasing burden on our healthcare system and economy as well.

Unfortunately, we have yet to develop a silver bullet for the treatment of this disease. In fact, I have written before about the lack of truly effective interventions currently available.  To date we haven’t got any treatments that do much to reverse or even slow the degenerative progress of the disease.

Research continues and we must keep trying new ways to approach treatment in hope of finding something that can tackle this condition and improve quality of life and long-term outlook for those living with it.

One novel treatment currently being investigated uses a different approach from the medications currently available to treat Alzheimer’s. The new one is known as a selective 5HT6 receptor antagonist. As the name implies, it focuses on the 5-HT6 receptors in areas of the brain known to be involved in cognition. This is a different focus than the amyloid and tau focus of most previous research in this field.

Early studies with this new compound found promising results when it was combined with a currently available medication (donepezil). Patients showed significant cognitive improvement as well as positive trends in activities of daily living. These were promising preliminary results in phase II studies, which is why phase III is now underway.

Now larger scale studies are examining the drug’s effects on roughly 3,000 patients worldwide with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

It will be interesting to learn whether this compound can provide a new option for people with this condition.

Alzheimer’s typically affects individuals over the age of 65 with the likelihood increasing with age. It is a degenerative brain disorder characterized by distressing memory loss and changes in thought, function and behaviour, which get worse over time. These changes interfere more and more with a person’s ability to function and eventually leave them dependent on others.

Okanagan Clinical Trials is one of the worldwide sites participating in the ongoing study involving the 5-HT6 receptor antagonist. If you or a loved one are aged 65 or older and living with Alzheimer’s disease, you may be eligible to participate in this study of an investigational medication. Contact our office for more information.


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