Potential New Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease Nearing Market Approval
Research into drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease has been fraught with disappointments and difficulties, leaving patients with only five FDA-approved treatment options. The options that are available are limited as well in that they only slow the progression of the disease once it has presented, offering little in the way of prevention.
Because so many potential treatments have fizzled out in trials, investors are wary of funding new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s, but a few emerging drugs do appear to have some promise. Among the drugs in phase three clinical trials are treatments based on discoveries made during prior unsuccessful trials. Since these drugs are in the final phases of testing, some of them could come to market within the next five years.
One of the most promising discoveries made during unsuccessful trials was the role of beta-amyloid in the degeneration of neural tissue. Several of the treatments in phase three trials now are anti-amyloid drugs that aim to slow down the disease in its early stages or to prevent it in patients with a strong genetic predisposition to develop it. The outcome of these trials will offer insight into whether the theory that amyloid is responsible for the progression of Alzheimer’s is correct. Anti-amyloid drugs currently in phase three trials include aducanumab, crenezumab, gantenerumab, and verubecestat.
Another avenue currently being explored in phase three drug trials is the role of tau proteins in the disruption of the communication between neurons. Two new drugs, Trx0237 and masatinib, are tau protein inhibitors that researchers hope will prevent tau protein tangles from forming in the brain and hampering neurological function.
Researchers have also noted that the brains of Alzheimer’s patients show a high degree of insulin resistance. One antidiabetic drug is currently in phase three trials for treating Alzheimer’s by increasing the brain’s sensitivity to insulin. It is hoped that pioglitazone, which increases insulin sensitivity, will show itself beneficial for patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease.
In another promising trial, researchers have detected serotonergic nerve breakdown and serotonin disruption in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. They hope that idalopirdine, a drug that targets serotonin receptors, will prove beneficial for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Though the range of treatment options that are currently available is narrow, the current group of drugs in phase three trials offer a glimmer of hope, despite the poor results achieved in prior studies of Alzheimer’s treatments. As each of these new options get closer to market, they will provide valuable insights into the catalysts of the disease and enhance our understanding of a complex and devastating neurological condition.