Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder that results in the decline in the number of neurons in the brain. Due to damage sustained in the brain, there is also a build of plaques that further inhibits the areas of the brain associated with memory, abstract thinking and even personality. Once diagnosed, the average survival is 8 to 10 years as a person declines through the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s as stated by the Alzheimer’s Association. In Australia, Alzheimer’s affects approximately 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 and approximately 1 in 4 over the age of 85. A new drug is showing promise though.
Plaques in the brain develop due to the activity of aspartyl protease β-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 or BACE1 for short; so researchers found it favourable to target this protein and try to inhibit it. Researchers used a drug called verubecestat (MK-8931) to inhibit the enzyme activity and they found that it significantly decreased the presence of Aβ40, Aβ42, and sAPPβ; which are directly relate to BACE1 activity.
The trial was initially aimed to see if the drug was safe to be used on humans as well as determine any negative side effects from its use. It was found however to essentially turn off the the enzymes activity to prevent the formation of plaques. There are still some issues associated with the trial. This includes the length of the trial (7 days) as well as the sample size (32 Alzheimer patients). Further analysis of the results is needed and more clinical trials are to be performed. That being said though, these are some amazing and promising results that could lead to the treatment of Alzheimer’s.