Three drugs that were originally developed to treat late-stage Alzheimer's disease are being given a second look after early research suggested that they may have more success in preventing the disease to begin with. A large clinical trial to test the efficacy of the drugs in preventing Alzheimer's in people who have the genetic markers that indicate that they will likely suffer from early onset of the disease is due to start soon, as reported by CBS News and other media outlets on Wednesday.
Here is some of the key information regarding these particular Alzheimer's drugs and plans for the trial.
* The trial itself will involve 160 people who have genetic markers that predispose them to developing Alzheimer's disease early. None of the people selected have signs of dementia or cognitive decline related to the disease as of yet. A control group of 80 people who do not have the genetic markers for early-onset Alzheimer's will also be studied, according to the press release by Washington University in St. Louis, which is one of the institutions conducting the research.
* Early-onset Alzheimer's can occur in a person's 30s, 40s, or 50s, although developing it in one's 50s is most common, according to the Mayo Clinic. Typical Alzheimer's disease usually presents after a person has reached the age of 60.
* It is believed that three genes provide the markers for early-onset Alzheimer's. Those genes are known as APP, PSEN 1, and PSEN 2. Mutations in any of the three of these genes indicate that a person is quite likely to develop early-onset Alzheimer's, although it is not a certainty, according to the Mayo Clinic.
* The drugs in question were reportedly selected from a group of about a dozen that were being considered for the trial. Two of them, solanezumab and a beta-secretase inhibitor, were developed by Eli Lilly and Co., while the third, gantenerumab, was developed by Roche Holding AG.
* Both Lilly and Roche have agreed to support their treatments with grants and provide them to the study free-of-charge, according to a report by Bloomberg.
* If successful, the drugs should slow or prevent the development of early-onset Alzheimer's in those predisposed to it. Otherwise, it is expected that those participating in the trial would go on to develop early-onset Alzheimer's within the next five years.
* According to a New York Times report, the trial announced on Wednesday is actually one of three that are due to start soon, all with the same goal of developing treatments to delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer's. The other two studies are more specific, examining the disease within a certain family in one case, and within groups of people who didn't show genetic markers for the disease before they developed it.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.