Drug 'slows' Alzheimer's progress

An experimental drug has shown promise for slowing the progress of Alzheimer's disease in a small trial, claim researchers

In just 12 weeks, patients with early Alzheimer’s given the drug showed improved cognitive function on two tests as well as reduce levels of beta-amyloid – the protein that makes up the brain plaques responsible for Alzheimer’s.

The drug – called PBS2 – works by stopping zinc and copper ions from interacting with amyloid-beta and forming toxic clumps key to Alzheimer’s pathogenesis.

Just 78 patients were involved in the double-blind trial and were randomised to receive 50mg PTB2, 250mg PTB2 or placebo daily for 12 weeks.

By the end of the study, levels of beta-amyloid in the spinal fluid of those given 250mg PBS2 were reduced by 13 per cent, compared with those given placebo.

Improvements were also seen in tests of executive function in the group of patients given the high dose of the drug, while worse scores were recorded in the placebo groups after 12 weeks, according to findings published online by the Lancet Neurology.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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