In other findings released at the meeting Tuesday:
Researchers released detailed results of a Phase III trial of the drug tarenflurbil (Flurizan), which was targeted at reducing the sticky amyloid plaques in the brain. In June, the drug's manufacturer, Myriad Genetics, announced that the agent had failed to effectively treat Alzheimer's disease. The company is no longer developing the drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's.
According to the results of the trial, the drug did reduce plaques but was still no better at helping patients with mild Alzheimer's than a placebo, while causing more of some types of side effects.
On the other hand, a Phase II trial of a drug known as PBT2 did show some promising results. According to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, PBT2 is thought to reduce amyloid plaques by disrupting the interaction of chemicals in the brain.
The trial, which was also published online Tuesday in The Lancet Neurology, involved 78 people with mild Alzheimer's who got PBT2 or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. The agent did reduce levels of amyloid plaque in cerebrospinal fluid. People on the higher dose (250 milligrams) of the drug also showed significant improvements in certain mental tests compared to those on placebo, the team reported.
Finally, a study from food company Danone suggests that a nutrient-rich "medical food" called Souvenaid could help boost the formation of brain synapses and may reduce amyloid plaques in patients with mild Alzheimer's. The product contains nutrients such as choline and omega-3 fatty acids, thought to be conducive to brain health.
Learn more about the disease from the Alzheimer's Association.
SOURCES: Claude M. Wischik, MB ChB, professor in mental health, University of Aberdeen, U.K., and chairman, TauRx Therapeutics, Singapore; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., chair, National Medical and Scientific Advisory Council, Alzheimer's Association, and professor, Alzheimer's disease research, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, Chicago, July 29, 2008