A drug designed to remove amyloid plaques from the brain appears to help some patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, according to a clinical trial involving research subjects at Oregon Health & Science University.
“We saw significant slowing in the rate of mental decline and brain atrophy among a specific group of Alzheimer’s patients who received the drug Bapineuzumab compared with patients who received the placebo,” said Joseph Quinn, M.D., associate professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine. “We don’t have drugs that slow the progression of the disease right now and this has the potential to do that. This could be valuable for people in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s.”
Bapineuzumab is an antibody that binds to and eliminates abnormal forms of beta amyloid that are believed to cause Alzheimer’s. Beta amyloid is a component of “plaques,” which are seen in the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s. The result of the recent Phase 2 clinical trials may also support the hypothesis that amyloid plaques are a culprit in causing the disease, Quinn said.
Subjects who participated received an intravenous infusion of Bapineuzumab once every three months during the 18-month Phase 2 clinical trials. Each dose was followed with an MRI scan.
Alzheimer’s subjects who lack the APOE4 gene received the greatest benefit from the drug.
The Phase 2 clinical trial was conducted at OHSU and 29 other sites around the nation with support from Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.., and Wyeth. More than 2,000 subjects nationwide will participate in Phase 3 trials.
OHSU is ready to enroll subjects in Phase 3 trials. The trial is open to persons with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, Quinn said. Participation is fairly demanding and participants will be required to make several visits to OHSU.
People who are interested in participating in Phase 3 trials should call the study coordinator at OHSU at 503 494-9399.
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with 12,400 employees. OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.
As a leader in research, OHSU earned $307 million in research funding in fiscal year 2007. OHSU serves as a catalyst for the region's bioscience industry and is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every three days, with more than 4,100 research projects currently under way. OHSU disclosed 132 inventions in 2007 alone, and OHSU research resulted in 33 new spinoff companies since 2000, most of which are based in Oregon.