Two treatments show promise for symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease – headlines from Alzheimer’s Association International Conference

Posted on 22nd July 2015

Clinical trial results for two potential symptomatic Alzheimer’s treatments suggest that the drugs may be able to improve memory and thinking, or symptoms of agitation and aggression.

The results are due to be presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2015 on Wednesday 22 July.

Phase 2b results for RVT-101 – a symptomatic treatment for Alzheimer’s disease

RVT-101, which is being developed by pharmaceutical company Axovant, is designed to work by boosting levels of several brain chemicals that are thought to be critical for alertness, memory and thinking skills. In a 48-week trial of 684 people with mild or moderate stage Alzheimer’s disease, participants received either 35mg or 15mg of RVT-101 or a placebo, along with an existing Alzheimer’s treatment, donepezil. The results showed that, at the higher dose, RVT-101 with donepezil appeared able to improve people’s memory and thinking when compared to donepezil alone. A further phase 3 trial of the drug is now planned.

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:

“These results suggest that, when combined with an existing symptomatic treatment, RVT-101 may be able to provide some additional relief from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Current treatments that address the symptoms may only have a small effect for some people, so if these findings are confirmed in a larger study this would be welcome news for many people with Alzheimer’s. It will be critical to determine how well RVT-101 might be able to improve memory and thinking over the long-term, and we look forward to seeing the results of future trials of this drug in much larger groups of people. In the meantime, it’s crucial to continue to invest in research to find ways of slowing or stopping Alzheimer’s disease in its tracks.”

Phase 2 trial suggests AVP-923 may help treat agitation in Alzheimer’s

AVP-923 contains doses of two approved drugs: dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in many cough medicines, and quinidine, which is used to treat irregular heartbeat. Although AVP-923 is currently licensed to treat episodes of uncontrollable crying or laughing that result from a number of brain conditions, this new study tested its ability to treat symptoms of agitation and aggression in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Results of the 10-week trial – run by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in the US, together with drug-makers Avanir Pharmaceuticals – showed that people receiving AVP-923 throughout the trial had fewer signs of these symptoms compared to those who received a placebo.

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:

“Aggression and agitation are some of the most distressing symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and can be extremely challenging for carers and families as well as being difficult to treat safely. While antipsychotics may sometimes be used to address these symptoms, their use has rightly been reduced after studies supported by Alzheimer’s Research UK and others showed long-term prescribing carries severe risks for people with dementia. This was a small trial lasting just 10 weeks, so while these results appear encouraging we will need to see bigger, longer-term studies to assess whether AVP-923 holds promise for helping to alleviate these difficult symptoms.”

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