Alzheimer's Disease

We are caught in a perfect storm. The human life span has increased and the baby boomer generation is starting to reach the age at which Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias become prevalent. There are currently 44 million people worldwide with dementia and the cases will double every 20 years reaching 131 million in 2050. Remarkably, the current annual economic cost of dementia in the U.S. is $818 billion. There is no other way to describe this crisis except in terms of numbers of people affected and dollars.

People with Alzheimer's Disease have a buildup of proteins in the brain that end up destroying it. These proteins, called Amyloid-β and Tau, can form defective structures in the brain that are not found in normal individuals. NeuroProtect's drug is an antibody that binds to Tau and causes it to be removed from the body. We have focused on Tau because the scientific consensus is that it is the most important of the two. In animal studies, our antibody is very effective at reducing these abnormal structures and reverses the typical behavioral and cognitive dysfunctions caused in Alzheimer's Disease. We have great hope that humans will respond the same way our animal models do.

What actually happens in the brain of Alzheimer's patients?
Tau proteins are proteins that stabilize microtubules. They are abundant in neurons of the central nervous system and are less common elsewhere. Scientists can see the terrible effects of Alzheimer's disease when they look at brain tissue under the microscope:
Tangles destroy a vital cell transport system made of proteins. This electron microscope picture shows a cell with some healthy areas and other areas where tangles are forming.

In healthy areas:
  • The transport system is organized in orderly parallel strands somewhat like railroad tracks. Food molecules, cell parts and other key materials travel along the "tracks."
  • Tau protein helps the tracks stay straight.
In areas where tangles are forming:
  • Tau collapses into twisted strands called tangles.
  • The tracks can no longer stay straight. They fall apart and disintegrate.
  • Nutrients and other essential supplies can no longer move through the cells, which eventually die.
Progression through the brain:
  • Plaques and tangles tend to spread through the cortex in a predictable pattern as Alzheimer's disease progresses.

The course of the disease depends in part on age at diagnosis and whether a person has other health conditions.
  • Earliest Alzheimer's — changes may begin 20 years or more before diagnosis.
  • Mild to moderate Alzheimer's stages — generally last from 2-10 years.
  • Severe Alzheimer's — may last from 1-5 years.

The Alzheimer's Disease market

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults and affects approximately 46 million people worldwide. By mid-century, someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds. The worldwide cost of Alzheimer's Disease care is estimated to be US$818 billion and the global cost is expected to be US$2 trillion by 2030. Furthermore, the projected total number of people that will suffer from Alzheimer's Disease worldwide is anticipated to increase to 74.7 million by 2030 and 131.5 million by 2050. Remarkably, even though there is currently no approved treatment for it, there is already a global US$6 billion/year market for drugs which are used to attempt to moderate the disease. It is hard to overstate the market potential of an effective and safe Alzheimer's Disease drug.