Trial results put amyloid research back on track

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have discovered a method of drug treatment which could be employed to clear amyloid from the brain.

The reported results show that a new method of identifying and specifically targeting toxic variants of amyloid-beta with the antibody treatment Crenezumab has been successful in reducing levels of amyloid in spinal fluid by almost 50 percent in just over a year of treatment.

The trial, conducted in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and pharamaceutical companies Genetech and Roche, is the first time that researchers have measured a reduction in the toxic variant of amyloid-beta through drug therapy. 

Deposits of amyloid-beta in brain tissue have long been hypothesised to cause neuro-degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. The trialling of therapies targeting amyloid has been so far unsuccessful, without a method to target the toxic variant of the protein.

These results represent a potentially huge step forward for amyloid-based research. In February of this year, after numerous instances of drug trials failing to reach final stages, pharmaceutical company Pfizer reallocated its investment in dementia research away from drug treatment into areas more likely to produce results. Improved results in this area could drive further investment and make a positive difference in the lives of those living with dementia.

There’s still some way to go, however. Roche will now attempt to replicate these results in further studies. If successful in later-stage trials, this research could lead to a therapeutic breakthrough.