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Monday 16 May 2016

Solanezumab and Alzheimer’s

If you had been sitting in the main room of the 2015 Alzheimer's association international conference, you would have heard a remarkable announcement: a drug - Solanezumab - has been found to delay the course of Alzheimer's disease. Now that is a rare thing - 99.6% of all drugs designed to combat Alzheimer's have failed in trials since 2002. Just four have been approved for use. None of those four target the underlying cause of the disease (they just ameliorate the symptoms). But Solanezumab claims to be different.

Image illustrating the effects of Tau molecules on neurons courtesy NIA
The “plaques” and “tangles” found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are caused by two proteins behaving abnormally; beta-amyloid is thought to usually be involved in neuronal development, but in many Alzheimer’s patients the protein is not processed properly. The incorrect processing leads to a build-up of large amounts of beta-amyloid as the protein loses its solubility. The higher concentrations lead to this protein creating large aggregates known as “plaques”. “Tangles” are instead caused by the protein “tau”, which in Alzheimer’s patients has too many phosphate groups added to the protein, this makes tau clump together within the nerve cells.[3] Image credit: National Institute on Aging (public domain)