Medicines against forgetfulness
Of all the drugs that have been tested against the progression of Alzheimer’s dementia, not a single one has made it into clinical routine. More than 100 drugs for Alzheimer’s dementia are currently in clinical trials, i.e. they are being tested on humans. Approximately 30 of these studies have already reached Phase III. In this phase, they have to prove their effectiveness against the malicious disease. If successful, the active ingredients can be approved as drugs. Many years, even decades of research and development have already gone into the active ingredients up to this point. “Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s research is like a super tanker that moves very slowly,” confirms Prof. Willbold and adds, “The principle that it is not about the formation of amyloid beta itself, but about its aggregation into oligomers, has already been known for several years, but the translation of these results into clinical application will still take years.”
This is why most of the compounds or antibodies in Phase III, some of which were developed decades ago, are directed against amyloid beta plaques only. Some of them also recognise amyloid beta oligomers. Other drugs are aimed at stimulating the brain’s metabolism by influencing the release of messenger substances or the growth of nerve cells. Only a small fraction of the drugs that are currently being tested is aimed at aggregates of the modified tau protein found in nerve cells.
people worldwide suffer from dementia *
of all cases of dementia are due to Alzheimer’s disease **
is what care for dementia patients all over the world costs every year *
Sources: * World Alzheimer Report 2016, ** Federal Ministry of Health
Mirror images bring advantages
Peptides have been used for medications for a long time. A well-known example is insulin. The disadvantage: peptides are quickly recognised and broken down by the body’s own enzymes. Therefore, such therapeutic agents usually have to be injected at regular intervals. PRI-002, on the other hand, belongs to an entirely new class of peptides. The molecule is fully composed of the mirror images of the normal amino acid building blocks. Therefore, the body’s own enzymes cannot recognise it and break it down. Accordingly, PRI-002 can be taken in the form of a capsule, remaining stable and effective in the body for a long time. “We will apply our concept of developing and using mirror image peptides as possible active substances to other harmful aggregates, such as those made from modified tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease or molecules that play a decisive role in Parkinson’s disease,” reports Jülich researcher Dieter Willbold.
Proportion of patients with Alzheimer’s disease aged …
Source: Federal Ministry of Health
Images: Alex ten Napel