Yale team says failed AstraZeneca drug shows promise in Alzheimer's

Glial cells (red) around alpha beta plaques--Courtesy of Yale

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) AZD0530 proved a disappointment as a new drug for solid tumors, but a Yale team says it may prove more effective in a new program for Alzheimer's.

Working with NIH money designated to find new purposes for old, failed drugs, the Yale team says that AZD0530 tackles one of the key steps in the development of Alzheimer's--blocking the activation of the enzyme FYN, which interrupts the synaptic connections between brain cells needed to retain memories.

Working with mouse models of the disease, which have responded to a long lineup of Alzheimer's therapies in the past without actually spotlighting any therapies that have gone on to work in late-stage testing, the scientists say that the drug was able to restore memory in the rodents.

"With this treatment, cells under bombardment by beta amyloid plaques show restored synaptic connections and reduced inflammation, and the animal's memory, which was lost during the course of the disease, comes back," said Stephen Strittmatter, the Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study.

The Yale team goes on to note that a human study of the drug is now underway to put the animal results to the test. According to their website, Yale is conducting a Phase IIa study that will run for 12 months.

AstraZeneca once had a huge effort underway in CNS, but it's been steadily backing away in recent years. The pharma giant recently outlicensed its BACE drug for Alzheimer's to Eli Lilly ($LLY), while retaining substantial rights in the therapy.

- here's the release

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