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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An Oklahoma scientist who helped develop a chemical that inhibits an enzyme that causes Alzheimer's disease hopes clinical trials for a potential new treatment are successful.
Biopharmaceutical company, CoMentis Inc., will start the first phase of trials for the experimental CTS-21166 on Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
The enzyme inhibitor was discovered by Jordan Tang, head of the Protein Studies Research Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
"It's a great day for OMRF," said Dr. Stephen Prescott, foundation president. "This is a tremendous need in our society. Dr. Tang is an inspiration to our scientific staff."
Alzheimer's disease is caused by amyloid plaques, which develop when a type of protein deposit builds up in the brain. The plaques inhibit brain cells' ability to communicate with one another, eventually destroying the cells.
Tang and other OMRF scientists in 1999 discovered beta secretase, which helps plaques form by cutting apart another type of protein.
Tang and Purdue University professor Arun Ghosh developed a chemical that keeps the enzyme from working.
The drug had to undergo toxicology, pharmokinetics and other tests before the Food and Drug Administration considered human trials.
Two more phases of testing are planned to assess the drug's effectiveness and safety.
"Through 2025, about 20 million people will have Alzheimer's disease, yet there's no drug that can help them," Tang said.
"When people have Alzheimer's disease, not only for themselves is it a hopeless situation, but for their families who have to take care of them, so society is greatly drained by this disease. It will have a tremendous impact on our society if this works."
It would be more than four years before the drug could be considered for final approval by the FDA, Tang said.
Information from: The Oklahoman
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)