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The one that is immune to Alzheimer's disease

Hopes for a cure for Alzheimer's have flared up again – thanks to Switzerland. US scientists have taken another step in the research, thanks to the 70-year-old Colombian.

Bruno Knalwolf

Sometimes hope is born, but even after 30 years of research, there is no effective cure for Alzheimer's disease on the market. The journal Nature of Medicine does not announce the arrival of a new drug, but promising research progress.

The reason for this is the discovery of a woman who is immune to Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School studied a 6,000-family clan in Colombia, which has widespread Alzheimer's disease. Because of their genetic predisposition, the members of this family have become ill for 40 to 50 years for several generations. Some remain spared longer, but all clan members are genetically affected.

There is no dementia. despite the Alzheimer's disease gene

US researchers have found an exception to the investigation of 1,200 family members. A 70-year-old man with no signs of Alzheimer's disease. Like all family members, it carries a gene mutation that causes dementia. But fortunately as a family only, there is also another genetic change that protects against Alzheimer's disease. Thus, it is clear that there is endogenous, hereditary protection against the disease. Researchers have identified a change in the protective gene. It can lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease on a genetic basis.

Brain volume drops to 20 percent

Ninety-five percent of dementia suffer from Alzheimer's disease, which causes nerve cells to die in certain parts of the brain. Research today suggests that both beta-amyloid and tau proteins are responsible for death. These proteins are caused by wrong processes of degradation in the brain. They are deposited there as plaque and lead to the death of nerve cells. Brain volume in Alzheimer's patients shrinks by up to 20 percent.

The brain dumps beta-amyloid, discovered by researchers in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the effect of the amyloid was confirmed by the discovery of these deposits in the inherited Alzheimer's. Researchers have subsequently focused on the amyloid thesis. Too strong and too one-sided, as some researchers complain, other branches of research have received little support. However, it is undisputed that amyloid is linked to Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, Alzheimer's patients rely on the anti-amyloid drug Adukanumab, which was developed by the company Neurimmun based in Flirren. The active substance is now Biogen's responsibility. In March, she surprisingly said she did not seek the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration. Recently, there has been a reversal: an overall analysis of studies shows that authorization will be sought. Neurimmune doesn't want to say anything about Aducanumab, the most advanced project. Except that a few other Alzheimer's drug candidates are in development. Biogen announced a press conference in the US in early December with the latest results of Adukanumab.

Switzerland works on medicine

The competition also explores: Roche has been running an extensive research program in Alzheimer's for many years. "We are exploring treatment options, as well as methods for diagnosing the disease and its course," says Daniel Grotsky of Roche. “Our study program works in different patient groups. These include healthy patients at high risk of dementia and Alzheimer's early stage. It may be that in the future the treatment of Alzheimer's disease may be a mixture of preventive and therapeutic agents. of generic approaches.

Several drugs in clinical trials

The Basel-based pharmaceutical company has several Alzheimer's remedies in clinical trials. Three of them remove amyloid plaques in the brain through various pathways. Another active ingredient is the white protein Tau. "We have also developed approved testing methods in Europe that can measure the concentration of amyloid and tau protein in patients through spinal fluid and thereby contribute to early detection," says Grotsky. blood tests are in development For amyloid gantenerumab, Rosh expects the results of the clinical trial to be approved as a 2022 drug.

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