UK Launching Clinical Alzheimer's Study

Dec 3, 2013

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The University of Kentucky is about to launch a clinical study that tests an existing medication as a treatment for Alzheimer Disease.

Researchers at UK’s Alzheimer Disease Center think a cholesterol-lowering class of drugs known as fibrates can also prevent the deadly dementia related ailment. 

Clinical Director Greg Jicka says fibrates apparently interact with a person’s RNA.  Inside the cell, ribonucleic acid helps its cousin DNA determine a person’s physical characteristics.

“These micro RNAs decide whether or not we’re gonna have a healthy brain or a diseased brain and so the medicine actually is directly interacting with our DNA with our genes, getting us to express health rather than disease,” Jicka said.

Jicka says fibrate’medications have been around for three decades, used primarily in Europe.  He says preliminary studies suggest this drug therapy could help to cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in half.  Fibrates are used to reduce a patient’s triglycerides and may interact with the ribonucleic acid found inside their cells.  Also known as RNA, it helps its cousin DNA determine a person’s physical characteristics.  Jicka says they can decide whether a person has a healthy brain or one susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

"We do think that the earlier that we’re able to get this medicine into people, the more effective it will be.  We do not yet know if giving this type of a medicine later in the disease state when someone has Alzheimer’s could stabilize the disease, slow it, or even reverse some of those brain changes,”  Jicka said.

Although relatively rare, fibrates can cause muscle pain, liver damage, and gallstones when used for several years. Jicka says a call is going out for individuals over 65 with normal memory.  He expects just over 70 people will participate in the year long trial.  The Alzheimer’s specialist admits it would probably be a few years before results are known.