Australian trials for new-approach Alzheimer's drug

Edie Mayhew and Anne Tudor. Source: SBS

A new drug promises to slow and possibly halt the affects of Alzheimer's Disease, with trials now underway in Australia.

Researchers are hailing a new drug to treat Alzheimer's Disease as a breakthrough that is finally steering them in the right direction to fight the degenerative condition.

When 65-year-old Edie Mayhew was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, her partner of 32 years, Anne Tudor, wasn’t surprised.

Ms Mayhew had been showing signs of dementia for several years before her clinical diagnosis. Things like forgetting to attend events, and not passing messages on to Ms Tudor.

But for Ms Tudor, it was the simple things Ms Mayhew no longer remembers, that are most difficult to deal with.

“Intensely painful, it's an ongoing grief.”

“She asked me recently, 'do you take sugar in your tea'. And that's really painful, because it's a realisation that Edie's forgotten that.”

Ms Mayhew had to give up her livelihood as a teacher and driving instructor. Her quick wit and strong memory are also gone, and she's now dependent on Anne.

The 65-year-old, though, remains optimistic.

“I just get on with doing what I can do, and not worrying about the dementia, because it'll end up taking its own course anyway, which I won't have much control over, unless there's a miracle cure,” Ms Mayhew told SBS.

But doctors believe they may be on track to finding that cure.

After remarkable results in pre-clinical trials, a new American-developed drug called CT1812 is now being tested in Australian trials in Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

The research is led by Austin Hospital Associate Professor, Michael Woodward, in Melbourne.

“This is a brand new approach, it’s not been tried before.”

“We think we'll actually neutralise the effect of amyloid clusters. Amyloid is the nasty protein that gives you the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It destroys the nerve cells that are important for memory, for thinking.”

The trial will look at whether the drug, developed by Cognition Therapeutics, or CogRx, can stop the protein clusters from binding to receptors on brain cells. 

It’s a new direction for Alzheimer’s treatment. Previous therapies had focused on eliminating amyloid protein build up, whereas this new approach looks at how proteins bind to receptors responsible for brain cell communication.

In pre-clinical trials, the drug effectively improved memory in mice, according to Associate Professor Woodward.

“If we can neutralise these amyloid clusters, we believe we can stop or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.”

“We know from human brain cell studies, that this drug is doing exactly what we want it to do. It’s stopping the amyloid clusters binding to the brain cells, it’s stopping the nasty, toxic effects of those amyloid clusters.”

More than 350,000 Australians are living with Dementia and it's one of our leading causes of death.

Researchers hope this drug will provide the breakthrough they desperately need, to prevent the number of patients reaching a projected 900,000 by 2050.

Acting CEO at Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria, Leanne Wenig, said any research that can help slow the disease’s onset would be a breakthrough.

“People experience short term memory loss, confusion, some spatial judgements impacts, but importantly what they lose is that sense of autonomy, and independence.”

Phase two of the trials began on Monday. 

Trials: People aged between 50 and 80-years-old patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's who would like to participate in the Melbourne trials at Austin Health in Heidelberg, Epworth Hospital in Richmond and Melbourne Health at Parkville, or in Queensland at Dr Philip Morris in Southport, can call 1800 558 952 or visit the websiteParticipants would take one tablet a day for a number of weeks.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch