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Women who are immune to Alzheimer's


Hopes for Alzheimer's drug are rekindled – thanks also to Switzerland. American scientists have made another breakthrough in research, thanks to a 70-year-old Colombian.

Bruno Knellwolf

Sometimes hope is born, but even after 30 years of research, there is no effective Alzheimer's drug on the market. The journal "Natural Medicine" does not announce the arrival of new drugs, but is a hopeful breakthrough in research.

The reason for this is the discovery of a woman who is immune to Alzheimer's. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have studied family clans with 6,000 members in Colombia, who have widespread Alzheimer's disease. Because of genetic predisposition, this family member fell ill at the age of 40 to 50 years and that for several generations. Some stayed longer, but all members of the clan were genetically affected.

There is no dementia despite the Alzheimer's gene

US researchers have found exceptions in the investigation of 1,200 family members. A 70-year-old without signs of Alzheimer's. Like all family members, it carries a gene mutation that triggers dementia. But fortunately as the only family there are also other genetic changes that protect against the onset of Alzheimer's. Thus, it is clear that there is endogenous protection that is derived against disease. Researchers have identified changes in protective genes. That could lead to new Alzheimer's therapy based on genetics.

Brain volume has shrunk by 20 percent

Ninety-five percent of dementia suffer from Alzheimer's disease, which causes nerve cells to die in certain parts of the brain. Today's research assumes that both beta-amyloid protein and tau are responsible for death. This protein is caused by a misdirected process of degradation in the brain. They place themselves there as plaques and cause the death of nerve cells. The brain volume of Alzheimer's patients has shrunk by 20 percent.

Beta-amyloid brain deposits were discovered by researchers in the 1980s. In the 90s, the effects of amyloid were confirmed by the detection of these deposits in inherited Alzheimer's. The researchers then focused on the amyloid thesis. Too strong and too biased, as some researchers have complained, other branches of research received too little support. However, it cannot be denied that amyloid is related to Alzheimer's. Hoping Alzheimer's patients because of the anti-amyloid drug Aducanumab, which has developed the Neurimmune company based in Schlieren. Active substances are now the responsibility of Biogen. In March, he surprisingly stated that he did not seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. Recently, turnaround followed: an analysis of the entire study showed that authorization would be requested. The Neurimmune company doesn't want to say anything about Aducanumab, the most advanced project. Except that several other drug candidates for Alzheimer's are under development. Biogen has announced a US media conference in early December with the latest Aducanumab results.

Switzerland is working on treatment

The competition is also researching: Roche has carried out extensive research programs at Alzheimer's for many years. "We are researching treatment options and methods for diagnosing the disease and its course," said Daniel Grotzky of Roche. "Our study program runs in different patient groups. This includes healthy patients with a high risk of dementia and early Alzheimer's. It is possible that future Alzheimer's treatment could be a mixture of preventive and therapeutic agents." Roche not only examined the amyloid approach, but also drugs anti-tau, inflammation as a cause of Alzheimer's disease, and in a generic approach.

Some drugs in clinical research

The Basel-based pharmaceutical company has several Alzheimer's drugs in clinical research. Three of them remove amyloid plaque in the brain through various channels. Other active ingredients against white tau protein. "We have also developed an approved testing method in Europe that can measure amyloid and tau protein concentrations in patients through spinal fluid and thereby contribute to early detection," Grotzky said. Digital devices and blood tests are being developed. For amyloid drug gantenerumab, Roche expects complete clinical trial results to be approved as a drug starting in 2022.

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