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New drug hope for Alzheimer's

 A drug developed by UK scientists has shown in trials to clear the brain of a damaging protein linked to Alzheimer's

A new approach to treating Alzheimer's passed its first clinical test when a drug developed by UK scientists was shown to clear the brain of a damaging protein linked to the disease.

The drug known as CPHPC completely removed a protein called serum amyloid P component (SAP) from the brains of five Alzheimer's patients suggesting it may be a potential therapy for the incurable degenerative condition.

SAP is present in sticky clumps, or plaques, and the tangles of nerve fibres that are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, and is thought to damage healthy cells.

While the study held at University College London was not designed to investigate whether the drug had therapeutic benefits, the results are so promising that scientists are now seeking up to £4m to test it on a larger group.

"There is a severe need for treatment for Alzheimer's and there is nothing available that works well," said Mark Pepys, who is leading the research. "Nothing else looks promising at the moment, and this is a pretty good, safe option. We can't guarantee it will work, but it's a good shot."

CPHPC was first developed by Professor Pepys almost a decade ago as a possible treatment for amyloidosis. The drug is still being investigated for this purpose, and is being developed in a deal with GlaxoSmithKline, but is also being pursued as a possible Alzheimer's therapy.

14th April 2009

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