June 24, 2014

Carrie Bebermeyer

Saint Louis University Searches for an Alzheimer’s Answer

Researchers Will Study An Investigational Drug for Alzheimer’s Disease

Saint Louis University will enroll participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease in a new research study examining the efficacy and safety of an investigational drug known as MK-8931 in treating the illness.

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to the progressive loss of memory and cognitive function. The illness is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, affecting approximately 30 million people worldwide.

Maurice Redden, M.D., assistant professor of geriatric psychiatry at Saint Louis University  

Maurice Redden, M.D., assistant professor of geriatric psychiatry at Saint Louis University, will lead the study at SLU.

“Doctors don’t fully understand the exact mechanisms by which Alzheimer’s disease occurs,” said Redden, who also is a SLUCare physician. “However, one leading theory is that a plaque that forms in the brain may be to blame.”

The amyloid hypothesis asserts that the formation of amyloid peptides that lead to amyloid plaque deposits in the brain is a primary contributor to the underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease.

BACE is believed to be a key enzyme in the production of amyloid β peptide. Evidence suggests that inhibiting BACE decreases the production of amyloid β peptide and may therefore reduce amyloid plaque formation and modify Alzheimer’s disease progression.

MK-8931 is a BACE inhibitor.

The study is a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind Phase II/III clinical trial designed to determine how safe and effective MK-8931 is at two oral doses, 12 mg and 40 mg. Patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease will receive the drug or a placebo.

The study is sponsored by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.

To learn more about the study, call Saint Louis University at (314) 977-4900.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious diseases.

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