Sign up for periodic reports and bulletins
FREE access; FREE of commercials; FREE to use
Posted November 15, 2012: by Bill Sardi
I was reading a front-page Wall Street Journal report about a medical researcher who believes his company, TauRx Pharmaceuticals Ltd, has a remedy for Alzheimer’s disease. It was a re-run of dated stories about TauRx’s 10-year venture to cure or even slow down the progression of this debilitating brain disease.
God knows how much venture capital TauRX has chewed up in the last 10 years. The company finally completed a small human study. At a 50-milligram dose the tau drug, Rember, produced only modest results in its first small human trial. A 100-mg dose had no positive effect. Full data on these first human studies were not revealed because the TauRx says “it didn’t to protect the company’s commercial interest.” That commercial interest might be that TauRx’s molecule is nothing more than methylene blue, a cheap anti-fungal agent used in fish tanks. While TauRx warns that Rember is different from plain methylene blue, it is a very close molecular cousin that appears to have been altered for the purpose of patent protection rather than improved performance.
Methylene blue was used over 100 years ago to treat malaria and it has been used medicinally for a variety of other purposes over the past few decades. It is in a class of light-sensitive drugs called phenothiazines which are known to induce blinding cataracts if the eyes are exposed to unfiltered sunlight. In the laboratory methylene blue is commonly used as a tissue staining agent. The most recently published report indicates methylene blue serves as a strong antioxidant against a free radical known as superoxide and is very potent in protecting brain cells from over-stimulation (excitotoxicity). Resveratrol, a red wine molecule, exhibits similar biological action. Its primary action is to protect the energy-producing compartments in brain cells (mitochondria). Methylene blue also has similar biological action to a drug used to treat organ rejection, rapamycin, also known as an anti-aging drug.
In reading the WSJ report you get the idea this researcher keeps hyping his drug because he has no alternative. Otherwise the $ 150 million spent in venture capital over the past 10 years goes down the drain. So who paid who to get TauRx on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?
And somehow TauRx is changing its molecule at this late stage in the game. How you get away with that and enter Stage III human trials goes unexplained. Will Tau be able to persuade the FDA to approve its drug in some limited fashion as other drug companies have done?
A recent report published in the Archives of Medical Research says: “In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid-β metabolism and tau protein have been exhaustively studied, both to no avail.” But that fact didn’t come across in the Wall Street Journal report. Is Wall Street covering for a failed pharmaceutical venture?
In the past I have written about the role of copper in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Lab animals given drinking water with copper experienced measurable acceleration of brain plaque like beta amyloid whereas animals given filtered water did not. In a human trial, a group that consumed the highest amount of copper experienced 19 years of brain aging over a 6-year period. The primary source of the copper in that study was multivitamins!
To put the copper theory of brain disease to test, University of California, Irvine researchers treated young laboratory mice with 250 parts per million of copper added to their drinking water for a period of 3 to 9 months. Copper exposure resulted in altered accumulation of a precursor protein that produces beta amyloid brain plaque as well as tau protein.
Yet in a contradiction of the copper overload theory of Alzheimer’s disease, another report suggests it is not copper per se, but abnormal copper handling that accelerates this dreaded brain disease.
The report (paraphrased) says: “A plethora of reports suggest that copper handling is disturbed in Alzheimer’s disease. In the present report we evaluated the efficacy of oral copper supplementation on cerebral spinal fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s. In a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2 clinical trial (12 months long) patients with mild Alzheimer’s received either 8 milligrams of a special form of copper (copper orotate-dihydrate) daily or an inactive placebo pill. The clinical trial demonstrates that long-term oral intake of 8 mg of copper can be excluded as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease based on the measure of beta amyloid and tau protein in cerebral spinal fluid. And using mini-mental state examination test… we have previously demonstrated that there are no copper treatment effects on brain performance.”
Back in the animal lab, researchers employed a special form of copper (copper-bis-thiosemicarbazonoto) which increases the availability of copper within brain cells while inhibiting an enzyme (glycogen synthase kinase 3beta). This special form of copper significantly inhibited the GSK 3beta enzyme and restored the ability of special-bred mice to perform a mental test (navigate a maze). This study probably represents some progress in understanding the disease. It’s possible vitamin C may play a role in making copper more bio-available in brain cells.
But human trials where extra copper is added to the diet or molecules that mop up excess copper are utilized have produced mixed results. Oddly, Alzheimer’s patients have higher levels of copper in their blood serum but no elevated copper levels in the cerebral spinal fluid.
Resveratrol is a red wine molecule that preferentially binds to copper and not other metallic minerals. A human clinical trial using mega-doses of resveratrol is just now beginning. That trial may end up with resveratrol causing many side reactions with existing drugs these patients take.
As of June 30, 2012 there were over 330 human clinical trials underway to better understand and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Is there one trial that will end up being a breakthrough? – Copyright 2012 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.
You must be logged in to post a comment.