Groundbreaking Alzheimer's Drug Shows Mixed Results

A new drug targeting toxic tau tangles associated with neuron death in Alzheimer's disease has curiously mixed results

A novel drug, LMTX, developed by TauRX Pharmaceuticals has been tested in a 15 month trial involving 891 people. 15% took LMTX alone with no other medication, while the remainder received the drug alongside other treatments or were administered a placebo. 

What did they find? 

Regrettably, the trial did not meet its end point, and for the majority of patients involved there was little effect. However, the 15% subset who were taking the drug in isolation strangely experienced a slowing of around 80% of disease progression, according to a number of parameters. On further MRI scans, those taking LMTX alone showed a reduction of brain atrophy by around 33-38%. 

A disappointing result

While the drug did have some promising effects in the absence of other Alzheimer's medication, the result is underwhelming. The treatment is the first large test of a drug targeting the toxic tau tangles that form within neurons, which some scientists argue these are more important than beta amyloid when it comes to neuronal death and Alzheimer's progression. These results aren't especially encouraging however, and the researchers currently don't know why other medication might interfere with the drug's effect. If the drug does successfully target tau, it seems likely multiple treatments at once targeting numerous different aspects of the disease are more likely to prove successful in the future. 

“In Alzheimer’s, the most likely scenario for successful future treatment is addressing the disease from multiple angles, so having a drug that targets tau is a very hopeful sign” 

Read more at the New Scientist