Monday, July 8, 2019
A Colorado health care start-up called Partner Therapeutics is researching an almost 30-year-old leukemia medication and how it can regulate the immune system as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. This change in research trajectory is seen as a result of billions of dollars used in vain by major pharmaceutical companies seeking treatments for the removal of amyloid plaques, an accumulation of debris on brain tissue that is a key sign of Alzheimer’s.
So as bigger companies are backing away from the area, small businesses and start-ups are filling the gap. As of last year, there are only around 70 potential Alzheimer’s therapies in various stages of clinical trials, in addition to 22 remaining amyloid-targeting drugs, according to industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. In comparison, there are roughly 1,100 drugs for cancer, 445 for other neurological diseases, and 200 for heart disease and stroke in development.
Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center are leading a trial of Leukine in 40 Alzheimer’s patients. In mice with Alzheimer’s disease, the same protein contained in Leukine cleared amyloid debris from the brain while also reversing memory loss. But other drugs by bigger companies that showed promise in mice also failed, so there odds may still be long.
See Christopher Rowland, Alzheimer’s Research is Getting a Reboot at Small Companies Focused on the Immune System, Washington Post, July 3, 2019.
Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.