Pebble Beach, CA Roche Making Bold Move Into Alzheimer's Drug Market : View From A Private Duty Caregiverby Richard Kuehn on 06/23/12
Swiss drug company Roche Holdings AG has made another bold move in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, buying the rights to a new experimental drug from AC Immune SA. The treatment aims to attack the disease by blocking a protein in the body called tau. The drugs are designed to prevent the tau protein from malfunctioning and forming tangles in the brain. Historically, Roche has focused mostly on cancer drugs, however, more recently it is targeting Alzheimer's since there are so many promising treatments being developed and the market would be huge if something more effective than current drugs is developed and makes it through FDA approval. I wrote recently about Genentech's drug Crenezumab (which attacks amyloid plaques in the brain) and the promise the drug has for actually becoming an Alzheimer's disease vaccine. Crenezumab is currently being tested in two clinical trials on people who have mild to moderate symptoms of dementia to try and discover whether it can help reduce cognitive decline or amyloid accumulation. But there are bigger hopes for a study in Columbia, which is where one of about 50 rare groups of people live where the residents all get Alzheimer's at an early age. I wrote years ago about an extended family in a village in Columbia where, because they have a specific gene and have inbred, many of them start developing dementia in their 30's, 40's and 50's. It's one of the most heart breaking stories I have ever read and it profiled a woman who, at the age of 82, was forced to take care of three children between the ages of 48 and 55 who all developed early onset dementia. The woman had to feed them and change their diapers as she did when they were children. When the Times profiled them in 2010, researchers were very excited about studying this pool of about 5,000 people. However, drug cartels made the area too dangerous to travel in and the studies never came to fruition. Thankfully, the Banner Alzheimer's Institute is about to begin a $100 million five year study on 300 of these family members, some of which are in their 30's. Genetech is a partner with Roche on a number of fronts including Crenezumab, which was also developed by AC Immune and licensed by Roche in 2006. Regular readers of my blog know that both my father and my grandmother had Alzheimer's disease when they passed away. I am a big supporter of the Alzheimer's Association, which has a 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900. They are also the largest private supporter of Alzheimer's research in the United States. Please help them with their important mission if you can by clicking on this link for Family inHome Caregiving fundraising site for Alzheimer's Association. To find out more about the great work that the Banner Alzheimer's Institute is doing, click here.