A pharmaceutical compound meant to repair the brain may be a promising medication for improving cognitive brain function, especially for those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at Washington State University found that patients with Alzheimer’s-like cognitive impairment responded favorably to the investigational drug.
Not slow down damage, repair it
Existing Alzheimer’s treatments are intended to slow the progression of the disease – there is currently no cure. Joe Harding, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, WSU, said the current medication for Alzheimer’s has not been designed to restore brain function.
"This is about recovering function. That’s what makes these things totally unique. They’re not designed necessarily to stop anything. They’re designed to fix what’s broken. As far as we can see, they work."
New drugs are difficult to develop
The researchers stressed the fact that they are only at the initial phase of testing. They will next need to convince the FDA that the drug is safe for humans. Once they do that, clinical trials can start. It could cost as much as $1 million to develop the drug. And the odds are against it; only one in 34 compounds has ever been approved as a treatment for Alzheimer’s.
A smaller molecule made it possible
This compound has been studied for 20 years. Early on scientists knew that it worked to restore brain function. The problem was delivery since it had to be injected into the brain directly. In 2007 Harding designed Dihexa, a smaller version of the effective molecule. It crosses the blood-brain barrier, is stable, and can move from digestive system to circulatory system, meaning an oral version can be developed.
"We quickly found out that this molecule was absolutely, insanely active," said Harding. Hopefully, it can be developed to treat brain traumas and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, WSU