A promising areas of Alzheimer’s disease drug research has reached a new milestone, with the recruitment and treatment of the first patient in a Phase 2 clinical trial of Actinogen Medical’s cortisol-blocking drug Xanamem.
The patient was treated at the Central Coast Neurosciences Research site in New South Wales and is part of a trial that will enrol 174 patients at 20 sites across Australia, the UK and US.
The trial will be the largest of its kind ever conducted by an Australian biotech company and builds on more than a decade of research.
Xanamem was first discovered by scientists at the University of Edinburgh. It could represent a major breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, at a time when several high-profile drug trials based on more traditional approaches have failed.
Xanamem is novel among Alzheimer’s drugs under development in that it has been specifically designed to block excess production of cortisol - the stress hormone - in areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Research recently confirmed that raised cortisol levels in the blood and brain are strongly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, said the company.
Actinogen Medical CEO Dr Bill Ketelbey, who was involved in the development and launch of many drugs during his time as Medical Director at Pfizer - including Aricept, the current market-leading Alzheimer’s treatment - said Alzheimer’s disease was one of the last great bastions of drug research.
“Due to improved healthcare people are living for longer, but unfortunately this also means the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is skyrocketing. Age is the single biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, and the numbers of sufferers are doubling every 20 years. However the therapies currently available to treat Alzheimer’s provide limited benefit and there has been no major breakthrough for more than a decade in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr Ketelbey.
“Alzheimer’s disease is already the leading cause of death in the UK, and second only behind heart disease in Australia. According to a recent report, Alzheimer's Australia predicts that almost 6.5 million Australians will be diagnosed with dementia in the next 40 years at a cost of more than $1 trillion."
Professor Colin Masters, Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne and one of the key researchers on AIBL, said Xanamem could provide the turning point needed in finding a new effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Earlier this year the AIBL study, a 1100+ participant, 9-year study published data showing that raised cortisol is strongly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Xanamem, through its inhibition of cortisol in the brain, could represent a major advance in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. I am delighted that Australia is at the forefront of global clinical research to treat this devastating disease,” said Professor Masters.