Professor Allsop's Alzheimer's Drug
Several years ago our scientists developed a drug that blocks the formation of the 'senile plaques' that are found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia. This work is led by Professor David Allsop, who was the first person to isolate these plaques from the human brain.
The drug works by stopping single molecules of a substance called 'Aβ' from clustering together to form oligomers, which then aggregate further into 'amyloid fibres' that are found at the centre of the senile plaques. The oligomers and plaques cause damage to nerve cells, and lead to further changes in the brain that culminate in dementia.
Studies on various model systems show that the drug is highly stable in the body, blocks the toxic effects of Aβ on nerve cells, and preserves memory.
A North West based Clinical Research organisation (MAC Clinical Research) have agreed to progress this treatment towards human clinical trials, and although this is good news indeed, there are still a lot of experiments that need completing, for example to determine how to deliver the drug, and to look at its safety profile.
This is why we launched the Defying Dementia campaign, to increase awareness of the disease and to help us raise some of the money needed to get the drug into human clinical trials.
Update on Professor Allsop's work
- We have used some of the Defying Dementia funds to determine what happens to the drug when it is injected, and how long it survives in the body. This study has led to clear evidence that the drug can penetrate into the brain from the blood.
- We have also looked at whether the drug has any effect on some important enzymes found in the liver. In this study, we found no evidence that the drug has any toxic effects on the liver.
- We are currently looking into the way that the drug is removed from the body.