A phase II safety trial to investigate a potential new treatment for Alzheimerâ€™s has begun. MSD, known as Merck & Co Inc, will trial a drug called MK-8931 in people with mild to moderate stage Alzheimerâ€™s disease.
MK-8931 aims to block an enzyme called BACE, which is known to play a role in the production of amyloid â€“ a protein that builds in the brain during Alzheimerâ€™s disease. Experts believe this build-up of amyloid may act as a trigger for the disease, and itâ€™s hoped the drug will be able to tackle the disease by blocking BACE and stopping the build-up of amyloid.
The initial phase II trial will assess whether the drug is safe for use in a group of 200 people with mild and moderate stage Alzheimerâ€™s. The firm then hopes to begin a phase III trial with up to 1,700 patients, to see whether MK-8931 is able to improve their thinking skills and ability to carry out everyday tasks. This phase III trial is expected to be completed in December 2016.
Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK, said:
â€œIt takes many years of research in the lab before a clinical trial can begin, and itâ€™s great to see research into potential new treatments for Alzheimerâ€™s disease progressing in this way. This drug is designed to target the first step in the chain of events that produces the amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimerâ€™s disease. The challenge for these trials will be to determine whether the drug is safe for use in people with Alzheimerâ€™s and, crucially, whether it has benefits for these people. We look forward to seeing the results of these trials in four yearsâ€™ time.
â€œHalf a million people are affected by Alzheimerâ€™s in the UK yet there is still no way to stop the disease in its tracks. We desperately need new treatments for Alzheimerâ€™s, but for these to become a reality we need to see many more drugs being trialled and much more invested in research.â€
This material has been published with the kind permission of Alzheimer Research UK.