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Senior Care News

August 11, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

New Alzheimer’s drug feeling the blues

A new drug that’s supposed to block the build-up of plaques and tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s has failed in a large trial.

The drug, a derivative of the common surgical dye methylene blue, was tested on close to 900 seniors in 16 countries who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.  About half received the drug and the other half got a placebo.

Over the 18-month study, participants getting the experimental drug LMTM fared no better in brain cognition or function than those getting the placebo.

However, in secondary results, patients exclusively getting LMTM (and no other Alzheimer’s medication) did show 30 percent less brain atrophy by study’s end than those taking it together with current dementia medications like donepezil (Aricept) or memantine (Namenda).

The drug, produced by maker TauRx, was hoped to thwart the harmful buildup of tau, the tangled proteins believed to increasingly interfere in brain function and cause the progressive memory loss, dementia and brain damage of Alzheimer’s.

The failed trial comes on the heels of a recent small study of methylene blue and short-term memory that had the opposite effect.  Volunteers in that 26-person study who had imbibed the surgical dye one hour before a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan showed greater memory-forming brain function than those who did not.