WHAT'S NEW WITH ALZHEIMER'S--AN UPDATE

February 3, 1994
Media Contact:Michael Purdy
Phone: 955-8725
E-mail: Mpurdy@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

Work on Alzheimer's disease at Hopkins is on an upswing on several fronts:

Hopkins' first Alzheimer's clinic devoted to a single drug for the disease has just opened. (Hopkins was a major center for testing the drug, Cognex.) A useful treatment for mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer's, it allows some patients greater self-sufficiency for a time. Because Cognex requires fine-tuning and side effects appear as doses climb, the clinic setting makes sure neurologist Barry Gordon, M.D., and staff can keep a watchful eye on patients.

"We think there's far more promise in the drugs we're about to test," says Claudia Kawas, M.D. This month, she and Gordon begin trials for three new drugs, with more slated for the fall. Among the most promising:

OC1979 -- very specifically stimulates nerves in the brain's hippocampus, a major memory site;

*E2020 -- may have all the benefits of Cognex, but without the side effects. That means physicians could give stronger, more effective doses.

On the basic science front, neuropathologists Donald Price, M.D., and Vassilis Koliatsos, M.D., have begun using animal models closer to humans to test natural growth factors that may regenerate the cells Alzheimer's disease destroys.

The protein Apo-E, which hit the front pages last fall, is under study in Kawas' and pathologist Juan Trancoso's lab. Related to the HDLs/LDLs physicians routinely use as heart-disease signposts, Apo-E may in some way contribute to the severity of Alzheimer's disease, Kawas says.

For more information, call me or Joann Rodgers at 410-955-8725.


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