An Australian biotech company is launching a novel attack on Alzheimer’s disease.

The first of 174 patients on an international trial will take the Australian developed drug, Xanamen, to lessen the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the brain.
There is evidence to suggest this hormone has role in Alzheimer’s. It is not promoted as the sole cause of the disease but rather as a contributing factor.
“It will be the largest global Alzheimer’s dementia study conducted by an Australian biotech company,” says Dr Bill Ketelbey, CEO and managing director of the biotech Actinogen Medical.

A CSIRO study of 1000 elderly Australians that began in 2006 found a link between elevated cortisol in the blood and the subsequent development of Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2015 an Edinburgh University study in mice showed reducing cortisol in the brain improved their memory and decreased the number of amyloid plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

A 2016 study at the same university showed Xanamem was safe in humans, decreased the production of cortisol in healthy humans and successfully crossed the blood-brain barrier.

The next phase of testing will determine whether it improves the mental function of people with mild dementia.

Over 413,000 Australians are currently living with dementia and nearly a million will have the disease by 2050.

The disease that damages the brain resulting in impaired memory, thinking and behaviour killed 12,625 Australians in 2015 and is forecast to overtake heart disease as out biggest killer by 2021.

Currently there are no treatments that control the disease long term.


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