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New hope for Alzheimer's patients

Patients with Alzheimer's disease could benefit from a new drug that has been found to slow progression of the disease by up to 81%.

A British-led study looked at the drug, Rember, in people taking it for 50 weeks. They displayed a slower decline in blood flow to the parts of the brain that are important for memory than those taking a dummy pill.

Rember is the first drug to act on the tau tangles that develop in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. Such tangles are made up of the protein, tau, which forms inside nerve cells in the brain.

Images of the brain showed that the drug had its biggest effect in the parts of the brain linked to memory, where the density of tau tangles is greatest.

The drug works by dissolving the tau fibres and prevents a build up of the tangles.

Lead researcher Professor Claude Wischik, of the University of Aberdeen, hailed the treatment as "an unprecedented result in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease", which affects about 400,000 people in the UK.

"This is the most significant development in the treatment of the tangles since Alois Alzheimer discovered them in 1907," he added.

"We have demonstrated for the first time that it may be possible to arrest progression of the disease by targeting the tangles, which are highly correlated with the disease."

The study's findings are being presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"This drug has the potential to have a major impact on the care of a huge number of patients and their families. My hope is that there is no delay in NICE allowing it to be freely available. Although it may have cost implications for the drug itself, these will surely outweigh the enormous cost Alzheimers is currently having not only on the health service but on patients and families both in financial terms but also in social, psychological and physical health. If, and when, this drug is clearly shown
to be beneficial all of us must lobby the government to get it licenced for use in the NHS as soon as possible." -  S Williams, Poole

"Brilliant, let's hope that it comes into fruitation soon. I am a parkinson's disease specialist nurse that deals with related dementia, often with no hope for these sufferers, at present." - Choo Wright, Surrey PCT

"Fantastic news. Are there any serious side effects? Can everyone get this drug? When?" - Jeanne McComasky, Germany

"Wonderful news, although too late for my own relative but will be beneficial for others and who knows we are all vulnerable and potentially at risk of this disease. A great break through." - V Henry, London

"Great my dad is in the very easly stages so hope it's available soon." - Janette Mcquarrie

"This drug will change so many people's lives. Alzheimers puts a tramendous strain on families and indeed those who suffer from this distressing condition. Hope the drug becomes available soon." - Alison Cant, Edinburgh