Does growth hormone drug slow Alzheimer's disease?

Nov 17, 2008

A new study shows that a drug that increases the release of growth hormone failed to slow the rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease in humans. The new research is published in the November 18, 2008, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Growth hormone is naturally produced in the body and stimulates the release of another hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Studies on mice have suggested that IGF-1 helps reduce beta-amyloid, which is a form of plaque, from the brain. The accumulation of beta-amyloid is a core feature of Alzheimer's disease and is thought to be an important cause of the memory and behavioral symptoms of the disease.

In the study, scientists used the investigational compound MK-677 to boost the blood levels of the hormone. MK-677 stimulates the release of natural growth hormone from the pituitary gland. The growth hormone then stimulates the release of IGF-1 in other parts of the body.

The study involved 416 people who had mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease who underwent brain scans. Half of the group took MK-677 and the other half took a placebo for one year.

The study found that MK-677 did not slow the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease even though MK-677 was effective in increasing levels of IGF-1.

"This work suggests that targeting this hormone system may not be an effective approach to slowing the rate of Alzheimer's disease progression," says study author J.J. Sevigny, MD, of Merck Research Laboratories in North Wales, PA. "Importantly it challenges the common theory that hormones may attack beta-amyloid plaque in the brain and builds on the body of clinical evidence for Alzheimer's disease as we seek to develop more effective treatments."

It is estimated that every 70 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease. There are only five drugs that are FDA approved to treat the symptoms of the disease.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Ivory Coast closes borders with Ebola-hit neighbours

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cholesterol transporter structure decoded

Mar 21, 2014

The word "cholesterol" is directly linked in most people's minds with high-fat foods, worrying blood test results, and cardiovascular diseases. However, despite its bad reputation, cholesterol is essential ...

Recommended for you

Ivory Coast closes borders with Ebola-hit neighbours

40 minutes ago

The Ivory Coast has closed its borders with Ebola-hit Guinea and Liberia in a bid to protect citizens against an epidemic that has killed 1,427 people across West Africa, the prime minister said Saturday.

How the world is underestimating Ebola: WHO

9 hours ago

The Ebola epidemic tearing through western Africa is by far the deadliest known outbreak of the disease, yet the magnitude of the spread is believed to be severely underestimated.

Last Ebola-free region of Liberia falls to virus

9 hours ago

Every region of Liberia has now been hit by Ebola, officials said Friday, as the World Health Organization warned the fight against the worst-ever outbreak of the killer disease would take months.

Ebola death toll rises to 1,427: WHO

20 hours ago

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak sweeping through west African countries has risen to 1,427 out of more than 2,600 cases, the World Health Organization said Friday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Nov 17, 2008
How about a drug that DECREASES growth?
"Thinking" is an orderly exchange of electrons
between cells. "Alzheimer's" is a "disorderly"
exchange!