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Ed Yeates reportingReseachers are ecstatic over a new drug which appears to prevent the formation of plaque, a substance believed to cause Alzheimer's Disease.
The compound, developed by Utah based Myriad Genetics, is already being tested on humans.
Last August, we reported on this experiment. A specially bred mouse - genetically programmed with its own version of Alzheimer's - swims aimlessly in a circle. Though taught how to find a hidden platform, it never remembers.
But when given this new drug which goes after a toxic molecule in the brain, it remembers - even when the platform is removed. The mouse may swim away, but always comes back, knowing this IS the location.
Ten months ago it was mice. Now, it's humans.
When patients with early stages of Alzheimer's were given the drug, "in that group of patients, there was a 63 percent improvement in the patients who were taking the medication," says Daniel Christensen, M.D, Ph.D., of Neuropsychiatric Research at Myriad Genetics.
Norm Bessett from Providence, R.I., is now in phase three clinical trials, taking this compound called Flurizan.
"When you get lost you don't know how to get back," he says, "but you have to have something to find the way. This pill was my way back."
So what's the drug doing up here? Flurizan appears to slow down or stop an abnormal protein from forming. Plaque--that eats away the brain and all its memories.
If true, this could become the first in a class of drugs treating NOT the symptoms but the root cause of the disease.
Dr. Christensen explains, "Something that actually affects the basic progress of the disease with the possibility of slowing and maybe in some patients even stopping the progress of it."
Changes in the brain were dramatic in the mice. Untreated, the plaque was all over the place. But with the drug - it almost disappears.
Utah families wanting to particpate in those Phase Three Clinical Trials should call 801 598-1405.