What is it?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a form of dementia, disrupting memory, thinking and behaviour. Dementia is a group of progressive degenerative brain diseases of which Alzheimer’s is the most common, comprising up to 70% of all cases according to Alzheimer’s Disease International.
Alzheimer’s disease was first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906. While the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age, up to 5% of all cases are early onset and often appear in people aged under 40.
While Alzheimer’s disease is most commonly associated with memory, cognitive decline (i.e. the ability to think and reason) is the first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, occurring many years before memory loss.
As Alzheimer’s disease develops, the brain shrinks as nerve cells die and gaps appear in parts of the brain associated with storing and retrieving new information. While it is still unknown what causes nerve cells to die, we do know that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with the accumulation of tangles and plaques in the brain. While we all accumulate tangles or plaques as we age, in people with Alzheimer’s disease, these proteins accumulate at a far quicker rate.
We know the accumulation of amyloid plaques and tangles are caused by abnormal reactions between naturally occurring metals in the brain, including copper, zinc and iron. While these metals are necessary for healthy brain function, in particular forming new memories, regulation of these metals can be impaired by aging, genetic factors or disease. In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, metals are bound in amyloid deposits.
Prana’s technology aims to: i) liberate these metals to make them available to form new memories; ii) to prevent the accumulation of toxic proteins and the resultant damage inside neurons; and iii) to improve neuronal health and function by restoring normal copper and zinc levels which are disturbed when neurodegeneration takes place.
How common is AD?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for up to 70% of all cases.
According to the World Alzheimer’s Report 2012, there are 36 million people living with dementia. This figure will increase to 66 million by 2030 and 115 million by 2050.
What is the limit of existing therapy?
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, although a number of treatments do exist which can slow the progression of the disease. The main class of these compounds are called cholinesterase inhibitors and work by reducing the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, a chemical which helps neurons communicate.
What is Prana’s progress?
PBT2 has entered Phase trials as a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.
Top line results for the Phase 2 "IMAGINE" trial of PBT2 in patients with Alzheimer’s disease were released in March 2014.
Prana has a library of more than 1000 novel MPACs available for screening and assessment for therapeutic applications in neurodegenerative diseases.