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Health and Medicine

Change in FDA policy fast tracks testing of Alzheimer's drug
But other scientists are unable to reproduce dramatic improvements shown in preliminary tests in Cleveland

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Dr. Gary Landeth (right) hopes to prove that Bexarotene can treat Alzheimer’s disease through phase 1 clinical trials. He and then graduate student Paige Cramer started a company called Rexceptor to develop the drug for clinical use.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
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A promising new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease developed in Cleveland has run into some roadblocks, but backers of a repurposed drug are moving forward with clinical trials.


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The drug Bexarotene was originally used to treat skin cancer. But Gary Landreth, a neuroscientist at Case Western Reserve University, showed last year that mice bred to have Alzheimer’s disease dramatically improved when given the drug. Now Landreth is ready to test it on people.

He says a recent change in FDA policy allows the drug to be tested on healthy people to determine whether it reduces soluble amyloid beta proteins that are believed to lead to Alzheimer’s.

“The FDA has recognized we now need to treat people who are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease but are cognitively normal, and that changes everything,” Landreth says.

The scientific community, however, is not convinced the drug actually works. Last week, the journal "Science" published independent studies that failed to reproduce Landreth’s dramatic results. However, he says he is still holding out hope his original findings in mice will be validated.

“Proving this mechanism in humans is essential to any subsequent development of the drug,” Landreth says.

Landreth says he could know by the end of the year whether Bexarotene will move on to further testing or join the dozens of other would-be Alzheimer treatments littering the path to a cure.

Listener Comments:

Does anyone have any idea as to what dosage they will be testing?

Posted by: DICKY_DOOO on May 28, 2013 4:05AM
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