Israeli scientists have found a drug that holds promise for a range of brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, but you may want to hold your hopes for a few years or so.
Drug discovery is hardly a smooth path, but the hunt for drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease has been particularly frustrating, leaving a trail of smoking corporate corpses and frustrated researchers in its wake. Cambridge, Mass.-based startup Satori Pharmaceuticals closed its doors in May after its flagship candidate drug proved disastrous in animal trials, unexpectedly interfering with the adrenal glands of lab monkeys. Irish drugmaker Elan Corp. was also severely shaken after its Alzheimer’s drug bapineuzumab failed in the final stages of human testing, but was rescued by a $8.6 billion buyout by Michigan-based Perrigo Co. in July. Drug giants like Eli Lilly and Baxter International have also seen potential Alzheimer’s treatments flounder in recent years.
“I think we fundamentally lack an understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease,” Jeff Jonker, former chief business officer at Satori, told Fierce Biotech in May. “And because we lack an animal model that replicates the human biology, we really are flying blind preclinically.”
So it’s best to have a grain or two of salt handy when you read about new Alzheimer’s research. Still, recent results from an aging research team led by Hebrew University School of Medicine biologist Ehud Cohen are intriguing.