Test Tells Whether Drug Works, Helps Treat Alzheimer's Disease
Until now, determining whether a drug is working has meant measuring a patient's mental functioning over a long period of time. The new measurement tool -- called stable isotope-lined kinetics (SILK) -- takes just 36 hours, which should accelerate the development of new treatments, the scientists say.
Researchers recently developed the test to find whether an Alzheimer's drug given to healthy volunteers could reduce production of a substance known as amyloid beta. Called A-beta for short, the substance is a normal byproduct of human metabolism that builds up to unhealthy levels and forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Scientists believe it is this buildup of plaque tangles that causes the disease's characteristic mental deterioration.
The drug currently being tested is made by Eli Lilly and is in the third phase of clinical trials. Using SILK, researchers found the drug reduced the production of the troublesome A-beta.
"Bringing a new Alzheimer's disease drug into clinical trials from tests in animal models has always been challenging," said Dr. Randall Bateman, the Washington University neurologist who led the study.