By Neil Bekker
At the recent International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Chicago, some interesting discoveries in Alzheimer’s research were presented.
Claude Wischik, Ph.D., of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and founder and chairman of TauRx Therapeutics presented the findings of his 84 week study, whereas 321 seniors were given a daily capsule of Rember, which stopped their cognitive decline by an astonishing rate of 81%. Rember is a a new formulation of methylene blue (Urolene Blue), a drug used to combat urinary-tract infections in the past, and was developed to target the protein “tangles” in the brain, stopping new tangles from forming and loosening those that already exist. This theory counters the accepted amyloid hypothesis, which contends that the buildup of amyloid plaque (the sticky brain-clogging masses) in the brain is the main mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease.
Others believe that both amyloid and tangles, also called tau, are important factors in Alzheimer’s and that the ideal treatment would be a combination of medication that targeted both.
Another interesting presentation was given by researchers from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine on an interesting link between alzheimer’s and insulin. Alzheimer’s patients with diabetes who took insulin plus another anti-diabetes medication to control blood sugar, had 80% fewer amyloid plaques than those who were not diabetic. The drugs seem to regulate the brain’s communication network of insulin receptors, which goes awry in the Alzheimer’s brain, while at the same time clearing away the damaging plaques.
New screening tests to identify Alzheimer’s patients in the earlier stages before their brain deteriorates too much – was another innovation presented. By identifying patients by the specific type of brain buildup — plaques versus tangles — that they are suffering from, doctors can utilize the more effective therapies for each individual.