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BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 31 December 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5540

Latest treatment for Alzheimer’s disease fails to work

A new drug for Alzheimer’s disease has failed to work in a phase III clinical trial. Tarenflurbil did not slow cognitive decline or protect functional ability in adults with early disease who took 800 mg twice daily or a placebo for up to 18 months. This was the largest trial of any Alzheimer’s treatment to date, and the authors are confident that the negative result is real, not an artefact of trial design. Tarenflurbil inhibits γ secretase, a key enzyme in the production of amyloid β.

No treatments designed to block the accumulation of amyloid β have been shown to work so far. Perhaps we are aiming at the wrong target, says an editorial (p 2593). The aetiology of Alzheimer’s disease is complex and poorly understood. We probably need a much broader approach to prevention and treatment.

One recent cohort study points researchers towards the biology of leptin, an adipokine produced by fat tissue. Among 785 healthy older adults, those with the highest serum concentrations of leptin had the lowest incidence of dementia and the …

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