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Office of Neuroscience Research > WUSTL Neuroscience News > Landmark Alzheimer’s prevention trial to evaluate third drug

Landmark Alzheimer’s prevention trial to evaluate third drug



From the WUSTL Newsroom...

An international team led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has selected a third investigational drug to be tested in a worldwide clinical trial — already underway — aimed at finding treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The third drug is being developed by Janssen Research & Development, LLC, in New Jersey. It is designed to lower production of amyloid beta, a protein that clumps together into plaques and damages neurons in the brain, leading to memory loss, cognitive problems and confusion. The drug is designed to block the enzyme beta secretase — which produces amyloid beta — with a goal of reducing the amount of amyloid beta available to clump and cause neurodegeneration.

This investigational drug joins two others already being evaluated in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network Trial Unit (DIAN-TU) study, which involves people with an inherited predisposition to develop Alzheimer’s at a young age, usually in their 30s, 40s or 50s. Participants already enrolled will continue on their existing drug regimens, and additional volunteers with no or mild symptoms of cognitive impairment will be enrolled to evaluate the third drug.

“We are delighted with the new collaboration with Janssen Research & Development to expand the number of novel therapeutic targets we are testing,” said Washington University Alzheimer’s specialist Randall J. Bateman, MD, director of the DIAN-TU, a public-private-philanthropic research partnership.

“Testing a beta secretase inhibitor in the DIAN-TU trial further diversifies the approach to speed identification of potential preventions and treatments for this devastating disease,” added Bateman, who is also the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology at Washington University.

The DIAN-TU, launched in 2012, is the first trial aimed at identifying drugs to prevent or slow Alzheimer’s in people who are nearly certain to develop the disease due to inherited genetic mutations. Specifically, people in the trial have mutations in one of three genes – APP, PSEN-1 or PSEN-2 – which are linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s. The hope is that by intervening early – before Alzheimer’s ravages the brain – it may be possible to thwart the disease.

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