Healthcare Industry News:  dementia 

Biopharmaceuticals Neurology

 News Release - December 21, 2006

Potential Alzheimer's Disease Treatment Discovered in Wales, UK

Cardiff University Researchers Find Antibody That Could Block Disease

CARDIFF, Wales, Dec. 21 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- An antibody with the potential to block production of the brain chemical linked to Alzheimer's disease has been developed by researchers at Cardiff University in Wales, UK. The research is published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

There is no known cure or preventative treatment for Alzheimer's disease, a debilitating illness affecting one in 20 people over the age of 65 and one in five over the age of 80 in the UK. Worldwide, the disease afflicts more than 12 million people. Alzheimer's causes a distressing, irreversible and progressive loss of brain function and memory.

A team led by Dr. Emma Kidd at Cardiff University's Welsh School of Pharmacy made the discovery during research funded by the Alzheimer's Society, the UK's leading care and research charity for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

The results of the study show that it is possible to decrease production of a small protein called *-amyloid (A*), which is believed to be the main cause of the disease. Deposits of A* build up in the brain, preventing it from functioning properly.

The team has developed an antibody that binds to a naturally occurring protein in the brain, amyloid precursor protein (APP), preventing the production of A*. The antibody blocks the access to APP of an enzyme, b-secretase, crucial for the formation of Ab.

"Our results are highly encouraging at this stage," Dr. Kidd said. "We believe that our approach could lead in time to a new therapy for this distressing and debilitating disease as it should prevent or reduce the irreversible deterioration of a patient's memory and other brain functions. This would also reduce the burden on caretakers, usually family members, who look after patients in the earlier stages of the disease," she said.

"We also believe it is possible that our antibody could be used as a preventative treatment to protect people at high risk of Alzheimer's Disease through their family history or other factors," she said.

The work funded by the Alzheimer's Society research program, Quality Research In dementia, was conducted on cultured cells in the laboratory. The team believes that a form of the antibody could be used as a treatment to reduce A* build-up in the brain, improving the patient's memory and quality of life. Any development of the antibody as a drug will take several years. The team is in the process of seeking funding for the next stage of development of the antibody.

The charity's Quality Research in dementia program is led and steered by caretakers and people with dementia, who set the priorities. This ensures that funding only goes to projects with a potential for high impact on the lives of people with dementia and their caretakers.

Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society said: "We are thrilled to have been able to fund this innovative work. As a charity we rely on donations from the public and we hope people will understand how important it is to invest more in research into all types of dementia so that we eventually may have a selection of new treatments to change the lives of people with dementia and their caretakers."

The Alzheimer's Society

* The Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading care and research charity for people with dementia and their caretakers.

Source: International Business Wales

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