harvard researchers plot early attack against alzheimers
Plotting the demise of Alzheimer’s
New study is major test for power of early action
The Harvard Aging Brain Study, a National Institute on Aging-backed project now in its seventh year, has shown that amyloid beta, the protein thought to cause Alzheimer’s, accumulates in the brain a decade or more before symptoms occur. That finding has given new hope to researchers struggling to move beyond a rash of high-profile Alzheimer’s failures in clinical drug trials. In February, just three months after Eli Lilly & Co. announced a trial failure, drug maker Merck & Co. halted a study. Several additional drugs are still in trials, but researchers are reconsidering their approach and wondering whether the problem is in trying to reverse, rather than prevent, dementia.
Now, the “catch it early” idea is being put to the test in a new study called A4, or Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease, led by Sperling and the University of Southern California’s Paul Aisen. Researchers will try an anti-amyloid drug on people who show no signs of cognitive decline, but who do have abnormally high levels of amyloid beta in their brains.
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