February 12, 2012 — Alzheimer’s study findings from researchers at Case Western Reserve University show that a drug called bexarotene (brand name Targretin), indicated to treat a rare cancer of the immune system that manifests in the skin and liver, has reversed Alzheimer’s Disease in mice.  This finding raises hope that it may have the same effect in humans.

Targretin was used in mice with brains engineered to show Alzheimer’s symptoms such as forgetfulness and rapid cell death. Immediately after taking the drug, the mice in the study performed better in tests and displayed better memory retention and sociability.  Mice also recovered their sense of smell which is commonly lost in Alzheimer’s patients.  The reason for the amazing results is that the drug stimulates the removal of beta-amyloid, a brain substance (similar to plaque) that can lead to Alzheimer’s.

Patients and their families are desperately trying to get the drug (which costs $1,200/month and is not expected to be covered by insurance), but researchers warn against humans trying Targretin ‘off-label’ until conclusive studies can be done on humans.  A four-month safety-trial of the drug is being tested on human’s with Alzheimer’s starting in March which will reveal very preliminary findings in human use, but getting FDA approval for use in Alzheimer’s patients could take years.

Given the vast number of Alzheimer’s sufferers and the destructive nature of the disease, do you think:
(a) The FDA should accelerate trials of Targretin in the hopes of getting FDA approval for use in humans?
(b) Should health insurance providers change their coverage rules to make this potentially transformational treatment available to insured patients?
(c) If you had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, would you be likely to volunteer to participate in a clinical trial in humans for a drug like Targretin that showed promise for Alzheimer’s patients?

Read the full story from The Daily Mail by clicking on:  (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099937/Families-Alzheimers-sufferers-clamor-cancer-drug-reverses-effects-incurable-disease-mice.html).