Alzheimer’s drug: another take on Solanezumab

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The Alzheimer’s drug Solanezumab turned out to be a disappointment when clinical trials showed patients with long-established Alzheimer’s did not benefit from it. But a new study aims to find out if Solanezumab will help people who have high levels of amyloid in their brains but have not yet developed symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Some people develop amyloid plaques in their brains years before Alzheimer’s disease symptoms appear. Amyloid plaques are a sticky buildup which accumulates outside nerve cells. These plaque formations can interfere with how the brain works, causing problems with memory and thinking. Research has shown that people with high levels of amyloid in their brains are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, though some do not. The drug Solanezumab provides an antibody that binds to the amyloid proteins, and may slow the progression of the disease.

Dr. Brian Ott of Rhode Island Hospital is leading a study on the antibody drug. The vaccine is supposed to attach to the protein that makes neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, and block it from causing degeneration of other cells. This is the first study to find out whether Solanezumab can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease through early intervention.

The trial will examine healthy people ages 65 to 85, with normal memory. The subjects will undergo a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan to measure the amyloid in their brains. Participants must pass a general health screening and have normal brain function and memory, but an elevated amyloid level. The participants will be randomly assigned to get either the investigative antibody drug or a placebo by intravenous infusion every month. Three out of four participants will receive the drug, and the rest will get the placebo.

The study will last three years, and the results will show whether the drug can change the course of Alzheimer’s disease when given before symptoms start.

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Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America. It is the leading reason that people need long term care. For information on Alzheimer’s and long term care insurance, see the Guide To Long Term Care.

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