Revolutionary drug ‘could reverse damage’ caused by Alzheimer’s by allowing nerve cells to mend themselves, scientists say
- Drug codenamed NVG-291 could reverse the damage caused by Alzheimer’s
- It removes a natural barrier in the body that prevents nerve cells from repairing
- 850,000 people in UK suffer from dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s
Scientists believe a revolutionary new drug that allows nerve cells to mend themselves could transform the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Unlike current treatments for the neurological condition, the drug, codenamed NVG-291, works by removing a natural barrier in the body that prevents nerve cells from repairing.
Paul Brennan, chief executive of Canadian biotech firm NervGen, said the drug not only offered the prospect of reversing the damage caused by Alzheimer’s but also of giving people paralysed through spinal cord injury the chance of walking again.
An estimated 850,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia, of whom more than half have Alzheimer’s. Pictured, shutterstock of a depressed man
‘We call it repair and this is what differentiates us from almost everything that’s out there in the central nervous system [research] space,’ he said.
‘Everybody, when they are looking at neurodegenerative diseases – whether it’s Alzheimer’s, ALS [known as motor neurone disease in Britain], or multiple sclerosis – is trying to arrest progression of the disease. We are trying to repair the damage.’
Mr Brennan said tests involving mice and rats had produced unprecedented results and that NVG-291 would be hailed as a breakthrough drug ‘even if we get only half that magnitude of effect’ in human trials.
An estimated 850,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia, of whom more than half have Alzheimer’s.
To show it is safe for humans, NVG-291 is now being given to healthy volunteers and from next year NervGen plans to prescribe it to patients with Alzheimer’s, spinal cord damage and multiple sclerosis, a disease of the nervous system.
Unlike current treatments for the neurological condition, the drug, codenamed NVG-291, works by removing a natural barrier in the body that prevents nerve cells from repairing
If the drug passes stringent trials, Mr Brennan believes it could be available to the public within five years.
Last night, Dr James Connell, head of translational research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see experiments take place to investigate the potential of less explored avenues like promoting repair processes in the brain.
‘But it is too early to say whether NVG-291 will help improve symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s disease.’
Dr Clare Walton, head of research at the MS Society, said: ‘This research highlights an interesting new approach.’
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