By Stephen McKinley
A new drug that could stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease has had a successful initial testing on humans, and will enter expanded clinical trials.
Designated AN-1972, the drug was tested on 100 elderly patients with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. No major side effects were noticed, Elan said. The drug is meant to cause the body to attack the plaque that forms in the brain that causes the degenerative brain disease.
Chief medical officer for Elan, Ivan Lieberburg, said that the test found there was a beneficial immune response. He added that there would be a larger trial involving 375 patients in the US and Europe in the fall of 2001.
Elan is working on the drug’s development in tandem with American Home Products Corp. of Madison, N.J.
Scientists are fascinated by the study, as the drug contains the same molecule, beta-amyloid, that causes Alzheimers when it buidls up in the brain over time. It is thought that the drug causes the body’s immune system to attack and eliminate the harmful molecule.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Alzheimer’s disease ranks as the eighth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and accounted for 44,507 deaths in 1999.