file photo

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Clinical trial to begin for new Alzheimer’s disease treatment

Activation of signaling pathway is expected to regenerate neural cells.

A clinical trial of a new potential Alzheimer’s disease treatment at Northwest Clinical Research Center in Bellevue raises hopes of a therapeutic treatment for a disease that was the third-largest cause of death in the state during 2019.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are over 120,000 Washingtonians living with Alzheimer’s disease as of last year.

A principal investigator of the clinical study, Dr. Arif Khan, said while it is not totally understood what causes Alzheimer’s, it happens when neural cells in the brain degenerate, entangle and receive protein deposits that affect their “connectivity,” to one another.

This causes a loss in cognitive function, irritability, mood swings, inability to sleep, paranoia and most notably, memory loss.

Khan said neuronal degeneration has been associated with aging since the 1970’s and can become fatal quickly as the disease progresses to more severe stages.

Khan said previously tested treatments have been generally ineffective. He said 50 years ago, researchers tried a treatment that made dopamine more available in the brain as a way to mitigate Alzheimer’s disease. He said this treatment was more-so a “band-aid,” solution.

He said 20 years ago researchers tried using monoclonal antibodies to absorb the protein deposits in the brain that obstructed the connectivity of neural cells.

The trial, conducted by Khan as well as other physicians throughout the U.S. will test a new treatment that he said activates a naturally-occurring pathway, called HGF/MET, to help the broken down neural cells regenerate and in-turn improve cognitive function.

Khan said the the small molecule that activates this pathway, known as ATH-1017, is expected to make neural cells more “young and active,” at least that is the theory behind the clinical trial.

The treatment will be administered with daily injections into patients. Khan compared the treatment to a small needle shot.

He also emphasized that the trial will include patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. If the data from this study are positive, ATH-1017 could be studied in both more severe and earlier-stage Alzheimer’s patients.

Spokesperson for Athira Pharma, Maggie Beller, said the trial will include up to 300 participants, with two-thirds of them receiving the daily treatment and the other third receiving a placebo over six months.

For more information, visit https://www.athiraclinicaltrials.com/ or call 1-800-668-4717.


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