Failed human trials of similar approach fuel skepticism
A new therapy busts up deposits of sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of mice. Further tests with the experimental drug could help settle the question of how important the plaques are to the disease, and might even lead to a treatment for its most advanced stages.
The study, described in the Dec. 6 Neuron, tested an antibody called mE8 in the brains of older mice that had been genetically altered to accumulate amyloid-beta, a protein that forms plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. “We removed 50 percent of the plaque,” says study coauthor Ronald DeMattos of Eli Lilly and Co. in Indianapolis. “This is a big deal.”
The scientists haven’t yet looked for any behavioral improvements in the mice. Nor is it clear that the drug would work the same way in people. But DeMattos and his Lilly colleagues are hopeful that the therapy will lead to new treatments for patients in later sta