A new drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease has been approved by the Chinese authorities and has been the first medicine to treat this cognitive disorder in the last 17 years. According to the drug safety agency of China, the medicine named Oligomannate is a seaweed-based drug and is used to treat mild and moderate Alzheimer’s.
Geng Meiyu of Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica was the lead behind this research of new drug and they said that seaweed attracted their attention because they found that the rate of Alzheimer’s was less in those who consumed it on a regular basis. Geng and team has described in Cell Research that the presence of a particular bacteria in gut causes inflammation of brain and neural degeneration which in turn leads to Alzheimer’s disease. The growth of these bacteria is suppressed by a sugar that is present in the seaweed. The confirmation of this particular mechanism was done when the Shanghai-based company, Green Valley carried out their clinical trials. The new drug will be introduced into the market by this company.
From the trial which involved 818 patients, it was found that the cognitive function of people suffering from Alzheimer’s can be improved by the use of Oligomannate within four weeks. Philip Scheltens, a neurologist who is the head of the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam has said that these findings have suggested that gut microbiome is an important target for developing therapies for the disease. The head of the neurology division at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Vincent Mok said that since more information regarding the drug mechanism has to be known yet, it has to be found if they can provide a protective effect as well as help in slowing down progression of disease in case of people who have not yet started showing strong symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease is named after the pathologist, Alois Alzheimer and was discovered in the year 1906. Previous projects for the development of Alzheimer’s drug by companies like Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Merck and Johnson & Johnson had to be abandoned due to unsatisfactory clinical trials.