An Iranian pharmaceutical company says it’s making a pill for the brain that doesn’t cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
But for some Alzheimer’s patients, the drug could prove costly.
And it may be a key reason why drugmakers are struggling to find a cure for the disease.
“We believe that there are still many steps to take before we can see a breakthrough in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease,” Ionis Pharmaceuticals CEO Ahmad Ali Farahi told CNNMoney.
For the first time, he said, the company’s drug could be approved for Alzheimer.
The drug, called KUMA, has a relatively new, relatively low-cost mechanism that it’s targeting.
“It’s a drug that we can treat the disease without the need for the development of new drugs, which is the hallmark of an effective drug, Farahi said.
It’s one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of Alzheimer research.
Farahi is among a handful of Iranian pharma executives who have been involved in a number of new Alzheimer’s treatments in recent years, including one called AZA-21, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July.
That drug was meant to be a one-shot solution for patients with the most severe forms of the disease, but it has also been found to slow down the progression of the condition in some cases.
That has led to questions about whether it might be better to treat the symptoms with a more expensive, longer-lasting drug, as the FDA has recommended.
But Farahi and other researchers are confident that KUBA could help them make a significant dent in the long-term progression of Alzheimer disease.
It has an amazing therapeutic potential, and it has the potential to save a lot of lives,” he said.
The new drug could offer hope to patients who are suffering from severe forms, who can’t tolerate conventional drugs, and have had no other treatments.”KUMA will be a major breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer, and for people who have already received other drugs, it will be an important tool in a broader strategy to fight Alzheimer’s,” said David P. Anderson, a professor at the Mayo Clinic who studies the drug’s efficacy.
“This is the first step in a very long and difficult journey for the company,” he added.
The company is now in the early stages of developing KUDA for a wider population, Farah said.
But he said that, in the near future, it would be possible to develop KUAA for people in more advanced stages of the disorder.
For some patients, it’s also possible to get a drug without the expensive trials required to find one that works.
“If the drug works for everybody, then that’s very important,” Farahi noted.
And there’s an alternative.
Researchers have developed a drug called NAC, or nocturnal infusion, that was initially developed for severe forms.
It has been shown to slow the progression and decrease the risk of relapse in patients with Alzheimer’s, but that drug is a relatively expensive, slow-acting drug that’s not designed to be used to treat all forms of Alzheimer.
But researchers say that NAC could be the first of its kind to work in people who are not in advanced stages.
“The only way that I can think of to get it in people that is in a phase where they are able to use it effectively is to put it in their arm,” Farah told CNN.
“I would like to be able to get in people like that, because that’s the group that needs to be targeted.”
The KUAMA drug could also be effective in those patients who have severe Alzheimer’s and who need additional help, such as medication to control the hallucinations they have.
For those patients, Farahan said, KUAMA could help prevent or slow their progression to dementia.”NAC is not a cure, but we are able now to see a huge benefit,” he noted.
But it’s not yet clear how many people who might benefit from KUAMI will get it.
It’s not a new idea to look for new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s.
Last year, the Food and Chemical Toxicology Board in the U of A said that the drugs were already approved for use in patients in advanced stage of Alzheimer and that its board would soon be reviewing the results of their clinical trials.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether KUAMS could be made available to all Alzheimer’s sufferers.