The latest Alzheimer’s treatment sparks hope for researchers as the drug enters human clinical trials in the near future. As the baby boomer generation quickly approaches its entry into the age group that is afflicted with this debilitating disease, the potential promise that this new drug holds cannot become a reality soon enough.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, statistics show that more than 5 million seniors in America are currently stricken with Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to triple by the year 2050 unless a cure is discovered. Last week, the latest Alzheimer’s treatment research and its preliminary findings in laboratory mice were revealed at an annual anesthesiology conference held in Chicago. Mohamed Naguib, M.D. is an anesthesiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, and he has been heading the research for this new drug, which is now dubbed NTRX-07.
While currently approved drug therapies on the pharmaceutical market work to decrease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, they do not address the cause. The goal of the latest Alzheimer’s treatment is to combat the formation of the brain changes that cause the illness. One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of abnormal protein in the brain, which forms clumps. These clumps, known as amyloid plaques, cause brain inflammation and inflict damage to its neurons. This leads to the characteristic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, which include memory loss and a steady decline in cognitive function.
When researching for a treatment to combat neuropathic pain, Dr. Naguib made the discovery that would propel NTRX-07 into the role of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,
“Patients who have neuropathic pain have chronic neuroinflammation. This is a compound that blunts inflammation.”
Inflammation occurs when the brain’s immune cells, which are known as microglia, run amok. In experimentation on mice that were affected by brain degeneration similar to that which presents with Alzheimer’s disease in humans, NTRX-07 reduced the inflammation in the brain by triggering an anti-inflammatory response from the brain’s cannabinoid type 2 receptors, which are found on the microglia. The subsequent effects included the elimination of the amyloid plaques and an improvement in cognitive function. In addition to reducing the brain inflammation, this latest Alzheimer’s treatment has also been shown to increase the level of SOX2, a specific protein that generates new cell growth in the brain. When placebos were administered to mice, their degenerative brain changes advanced, and their cognitive function continued to decline.
According to Dr. Naguib, “As the amyloid amount increases, more damage occurs. NTRX-07 will prevent the progression of the disease by reducing neuroinflammation.”
The promising findings have moved forward to the next phase of research and development. NeuroTherapia, Inc., started by Cleveland Clinic Innovations, will be the setting in which the latest Alzheimer’s treatment will be further studied by Dr. Naguib in partnership with Dr. Joseph Foss, director of clinical research for Cleveland Clinic’s anesthesiology department. NeuroTherapia, which was co-founded by Dr. Naguib and Dr. Foss, specializes in research to find treatments for neuroinflammatory conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Recently, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation made an announcement that a $1.7 million grant was allocated to NeuroTherapia for their ongoing research on NTRX-07. An additional $700,000 has been contributed to the research project by the Alzheimer’s Association. The goal is to commence human clinical trials by mid-2017.
Anyone who has an aging parent or significant other is bound to be as excited and hopeful as Dr. Naguib about this revolutionary drug. Watching someone progress through the mental degeneration of this dreadful disease is heart wrenching. If human trials yield the desired results, then the latest Alzheimer’s treatment will grant new hope to preserve your loved one’s memory and prevent cognitive decline. Do you have someone in your life who is affected by Alzheimer’s disease?
[Featured Image by David Ramos/Getty Images]