The Compound is found to prevent formation of plaques that stop brain cells from working effectively in Alzheimer's patients
A once-a-day tablet that harnesses a chemical found in pine cones shows great promise in both preventing and slowing the progress of Alzheimer's disease.
The drug, known as NIC5-15, has been shown in animal studies to be effective in preventing the formation of amyloid plaques. These are believed to coat the brain cells stopping them from working effectively.
The degenerative disease is the most common form of dementia and affects millions of people worldwide.
Early symptoms include minor memory problems and forgetting the right words. Later symptoms include severe confusion and dramatic changes of personality. A sufferer can also experience delusions.
It is estimated that it affects one in 14 people over the age of 65. It can be inherited in some cases.
The company Humanetics Corporation, which developed the drug alongside researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, have already completed a number of early clinical trials on healthy volunteers, which have shown it to be safe.
They are now recruiting a few hundred sufferers in New York for the next stage that will test the optimum dose at which the drug will work with the minimum side-effects.
NIC5-15 is a natural chemical compound found in fruits such as grape seeds as well as pine cones.
Current Alzheimer's treatments treat the symptoms of the disease, such as memory loss and mood swings, but do not stop it from progressing.
Ronald Zenk, President and CEO of Humanetics, said: 'There is an urgent need for safe and effective disease modifying agents to lessen the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. We are hopeful that NIC5-15 will satisfy that need.'
The condition is caused by parts of the brain wasting away, particularly in the cerebral cortex.
As the grey matter wastes away, clumps of protein, known as ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’, start to form in the brain. The plaques and tangles start to destroy even more brain cells.
The disease can shorten life-expectancy as sufferers can lose interest in eating and maintaining personal hygiene, leading to other illnesses.
With millions of people living with Alzheimer’s, there is a desperate need for effective treatments. Whereas current drugs only act to relieve symptoms, this drug aims to slow or stop the underlying disease. This would be a huge step forward, but we will only know whether the drug has real benefits for Alzheimer’s after it has been rigorously tested in clinical trials.