Alzheimer's disease

Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and University College London (UCL) have started a brain-imaging study (PADMMA) to discover new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The study will combine brain imaging with key biomarkers to build a better understanding of the role of inflammation in neurodegenerative disease and potentially a new approach in its early diagnosis and treatment.

The two-year pilot longitudinal study in Alzheimer’s disease of central markers of microglial activation (PADMMA) study will be carried out in 20 patients and use PET imaging to look at microglia cells in the central nervous system (CNS) in people with certain symptoms of neurodegenerative disease.

The trial will evaluate the prevalence and pattern of CNS microglial activation in individuals with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with mild cognitive impairment or mild AD.

Teva president of R&D and chief scientific officer Michael Hayden said: "The focus on microglial activation heralds a new therapeutic area of interest for most neurodegenerative diseases, potentially with very high impact on disease modification therapies.

"A greater understanding of the role of brain inflammation in early disease could potentially open the door to new therapeutic options."

"The PADMMA study has clear translational value. A greater understanding of the role of brain inflammation in early disease may lead to development of better biomarkers that could better inform therapeutic studies and potentially open the door to new therapeutic options."

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UCL’s Dementia Research Centre (DRC) will carry out the study and it will be led by Dr Cath Mummery, a consultant neurologist and clinical lead at the center’s Cognitive Disorders Clinic.

The study is the result of an extensive collaborative effort supported by the UK Israel Tech Hub helping Teva, UCL and Imanova, in an effort to change the standard in neurodegenerative disease.

Imanova will be responsible for carrying out imaging, at the Centre for Imaging Sciences at Imperial College London.

Mummery said: "This is a very exciting new direction. The insights into the role of microglial activation provided by the study will facilitate the development of reliable central and peripheral clinical markers of inflammation early on in Alzheimer’s disease, potentially providing tools to assess the impact of drugs on a new therapeutic target."

Image: Comparison of a normal aged brain (left) and the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s (right). Photo: coiurteys of Garrondo.