Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating and incurable condition that affects as many as 5 million Americans age 65 and older, according to estimates by the CDC, and more than 46 million people worldwide. Now, researchers from the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) are conducting a medical trial to determine whether two investigational anti-amyloid drugs — an active immunotherapy agent and an oral medication — can prevent or delay the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s in people with a high risk for developing the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) is a multi-site study that has enrolled more than 1,300 cognitively healthy older adults, ages 60 to 75, identified by genetic markers to be at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The identifying genetic markers involve the apolipoprotein E (APOE4) gene. About two percent of the world’s population carries two copies of this gene — one from each parent. One in four people carry one copy of the APOE4 gene, which correlates strongly with the development of late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Study participants receive either a placebo, the active immunotherapy agent (CAD106), or the oral medication (CNP520). Both drugs were developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, in collaboration with Thousand Oaks- based biotechnology company Amgen. The study is sponsored by Novartis and Amgen in collaboration with the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. Funding for the study comes in part from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.
The two drugs (CAD106 and CNP520) are intended to stop the accumulation in the brain of amyloid protein, which is strongly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The active immunotherapy agent is designed to trigger the body’s immune system to produce antibodies to the amyloid protein, while the oral medication aims at preventing the production of different forms of the protein. The study will provide critical information about whether anti-amyloid treatments can help prevent, slow or delay memory loss, and other cognitive disabilities linked to Alzheimer’s disease.