Researchers say that Medivation's experimental Alzheimer's therapy Dimebon appears to actually increase levels of the toxic protein amyloid beta while still delaying progression of the memory-wasting disease. And they don't quite know what to make of that conclusion.
"It was startling to observe that a compound with an apparently beneficial clinical effect on cognition caused acute elevation of amyloid beta levels in 3 out of 3 systems, in 2 labs," Dr. Samuel Gandy, a researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, tells Newsweek.
Gandy presented the data from a mouse study at an Alzheimer's meeting in Vienna. For years now researchers have concentrated on eradicating the toxic protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, theorizing that if you get rid of the protein you can treat the disease. But no one had figured out exactly how to target Alzheimer's. Gandy pronounced himself somewhat mystified by the results.
"We think we want amyloid levels to go down," Gandy told Reuters in a telephone interview. "Here is this compound that is looking very promising clinically that is making amyloid levels go up."
Dimebon is widely viewed as one of the most promising Alzheimer's therapies now in clinical development.
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