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Rember, a new drug for Alzheimer's disease, gives hope to sufferers
July 2008 - British scientists believe they have created a new drug which may slow down or even halt the progression on Alzheimer's disease.
The new drug is known as Rember and has been developed by researchers at Aberdeen University. Trials of Rember involving 321 patients showed an 81% difference in rate of mental decline compared with the control group of those not taking the treatment.
More trials needed
Researchers say that the drug targets the build-up of a specific protein in the brain. Experts were very pleased and optimisntic about the results of the trials, but as with any other drug development programme, larger trails are now need to test Rember’s efficiency.
The results were presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, by Professor Claude Wischik. Professor Wischik said that the drug may be on the market by 2012.
Larger trials of Rember are due to start in 2009, and scientists are also researching whether the drug has a role in prevention of the disease.
Rember trial results
Patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's symptoms were given doses of either 30, 60 or 100mg of the drug or the same amounts of a placebo.
It was found that the 60mg dose of Rember produced the most pronounced effect. Over a 50 week period there was a seven-point difference on the measuring scale used to determine severity of dementia.
The research scientists said that after 19 months there was no significant decline in mental function of patients taking the drug.
Effects on the brain
Scientists also examined imaging data of the brain. The trial data suggested the drug had its biggest effect in the parts of the brain responsible for memory. Over a hundred years ago, scientists first made the link between clumps or "tangles" of protein inside nerve cells in the brain and the development of Alzheimer's disease. Later experiments showed that these clumps were made up of a protein called Tau and build up in cells that are involved in memory. The build up process of Tau causes the cells to die.
How Rember works
Rember, or methylthioninium chloride, specifically targets the Tau tangles in memory cells. Previously research into Alzheimer's tended to focus on combating a waste protein in the brain called beta-amyloid, Beta-amyloid is known to form hard plaques in the brain which were though to cause the disease
Most chemists are familiar with Methylthioninium chloride as it is commonly used as a blue dye in scientific laboratory experiments.
Professor Wischik says that its potential healing qualities for Alzheimer was discovered about 20 years ago by accident, when a drop in a test tube led to the disappearance of the Tau protein he had been working on.
Significance of Rember
The Rember results show that for the first time that it may be possible to arrest the progression of this disease by targeting the tangles which are linked to the disease.
Initial reports say that the drug is over twice as effective as any treatment that is currently available.
Rember success story
One patient, aged, 72 began taking Rember in March 2006 as part of the trial. His wife observed the improvement in his condition was gradual, but he is now much more confident. She stated that he used to have panic attacks when faced in something complicated to do, but now deals with the situation much better. He still has off days, but there are far less now.