Hopkins Launches Study of Drug That May Prevent Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s is one of the most devastating diseases out there, and one that affects more than 20 million people worldwide each year. One of the most heartbreaking things about this neurodegenerative disease is that it has the reputation of being both inevitable and unstoppable–but a new drug being tested at Johns Hopkins and developed by a Baltimore biotech startup could change that dismal prognosis.

AgeneBio was founded by Michela Gallagher, head of Hopkins’s Neurogenetics and Behavior Center. Gallagher’s research looked at an epilepsy drug that was shown to calm certain kinds of brain hyperactivity–the same hyperactivity that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s. A previous study of the drug showed that it improved memory performance in patients considered to be pre-dementia.

The next phase of the study is being supported by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging, which just provided $7.5 million in funding for the five-year Phase 3 trial; if all goes according to plan, an FDA trial will likely be the next step. Researchers told the Sun that they expect to file for FDA approval as early as 2020.

“What this could mean for thousands of patients is they may never cross over into full-blown Alzheimer’s dementia,” AgeneBio CEO Jerry McLaughlin told the Baltimore Sun.

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