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Alzheimer's treatment drug made in RTP shines in trials

Posted August 11
Updated August 12

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— About 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to triple by 2050.

Some medications may ease symptoms, but nothing has been found to stop or reverse the disease.

Now, a local company in the Research Triangle Park has an investigational drug that shows great promise.

With Alzheimer's, brain imaging tells the story: The brain slowly wastes away as if it's starved of food.

"(It's) sort of called 'anorexia of the brain,' and as you can see in this picture, the severe Alzheimer's brain greatly atrophied compared to a normal brain," said Dr. John Didsbury, founder and CEO of T3D Therapeutics.

Didsbury says until now, drug development research has been focused on treating plaques, the sticky build-up around neurons in the brain. So far that approach has failed and dimmed hopes for a cure.

"We believe that this offers a new ray of hope," Didsbury said.

Didsbury's potential first-in-class oral drug—T3D-959—is designed to address the diseased brain's inability to process sugar into energy.

Scans of brains affected by Alzeheimer's show a decline in sugar absorption.

"(The brain) is not processing glucose," Didsbury said. "That is likely due to insulin resistance and insulin-like growth factor resistance."

It's like diabetes of the brain.

In early animal trials, T3D-959 showed the potential to reverse memory loss and improve motor function, such as walking. In a small human trial, Didsbury says they found similar results with no adverse effects.

"So, very encouraging," Didsbury said. "It is early. This needs to be tested in longer and larger trials to determine safety and efficacy."

Didsbury credits the early technical and financial support of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center as the company started in 2013.

He says future drug trial sites will likely include New Hope Clinical Research in Charlotte as well as sites in Florida.


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