Washington Drinking a milkshake-style medicine at breakfast seems to feed brain cells starved from Alzheimer's damage, researchers reported Monday. It's one of four promising experimental drugs poised for large-scale testing against the brain-destroying disease.
The milkshake drug, called Ketasyn, is a dramatically different way to approach dementia. It hinges on recent research suggesting diabeticlike changes in brain cells' ability to use sugar for energy play a role in at least some forms of Alzheimer's.
Special fatty acids in Ketasyn offer an alternate food source to rev up those hungry neurons, researchers told an international Alzheimer's meeting here Monday. In a study of 150 patients, adding Ketasyn to their regular medicines produced a small but important boost in mental functioning - but only in people who don't carry an Alzheimer's gene called ApoE4. Still, that's about half of all patients.
To stop Alzheimer's brain decay, most scientists have their hopes pinned on drugs that promise to prevent a sticky goo called beta-amyloid from clogging up patients' brains. And Monday brought frustrating news on that front: The first of those amyloid blockers to make it to large-scale, Phase III testing has hit a hurdle, and scientists will have to wait until at least month's end to learn if the much-anticipated drug Alzhemed really works.
The problem is statistical: Hospital-to-hospital differences in other medication use among the study's 1,000 participants prevent an immediate clear comparison of Alzhemed's role.