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San Diego Neurologist: New Alzheimer’s Drug Could Slow Or Halt Disease Progression

People with Alzheimer's and dementia participate in activities at the Glenner...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: People with Alzheimer's and dementia participate in activities at the Glenner Town Square day care center in Chula Vista, Aug. 14, 2018.

There is no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease yet, but researchers at UC San Diego said there is reason to be optimistic. They are testing a new drug for its potential to slow or halt the progression of the debilitating brain disease.

“We’re very excited about this trial,” said Howard Feldman, M.D., director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, a program that develops and conducts nationwide clinical trials to test new Alzheimer’s drugs.

The latest study being launched, called T2 Protect AD, will examine the drug troriluzole on 350 people who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.

“We are examining for benefits in cognitive function and thinking and memory over the course of one year,” said Feldman, a renowned neurologist noted for his research in geriatric cognitive disorders and expertise in large-scale clinical trials.

“We’re aiming to achieve somewhere of about a 40 percent reduction in what would typically happen to a person over this period of time,” Feldman explained. "So our goal is to reduce close to by half what their normal decline would be."

In pre-clinical studies, Feldman said troriluzole slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s by protecting the brain’s neurons from an overabundance of a molecule called glutamate. Feldman said excessive glutamate can disrupt nerve health and communication and may lead to nerve cell death.

He said the study is unique in that most other Alzheimer’s trials focus on preventative and early intervention rather than people already afflicted with the disease.

"It’s a segment of the disease that’s been largely passed over on the grounds that interventions need to be made much earlier," he said.

If the drug proves effective it could give patients a way to manage or lessen their symptoms even if a cure remains out of reach.

“My interest in this is to see whether it will work in persons who have symptoms where it may be much easier to see if it's working,” Feldman said. “If it works, we’re going to see it, and one year should be ample time with which to identify benefits.”

San Diego County is facing an overwhelming rise in Alzheimer's patients. The latest statistics show 84,000 people in San Diego County currently have the disease or related dementia.

“It’s anticipated that that number will increase exponentially in the years ahead,” Feldman said. “By 2050 it’s estimated that more than $1 trillion will be spent in this country on the care of person’s with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Feldman said while the quest for an Alzheimer’s cure has been long, progress in understanding the disease is being made due to a massive effort underway to bolster research and find a treatment.

“I’m very optimistic that in the coming five years we will begin to see some return on those investments,” he said. “And in the meantime, we’re full speed ahead on trials like this novel innovative therapeutics.”

More information about clinical trial can be found at T2 Protect AD.. To inquire about enrolling in the study, send an email to brainlink@ucsd.edu.

There is no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease yet, but researchers at UC San Diego say there is reason to be optimistic.

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