HAVANA, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Cuba's health authorities announced clinical trials will soon begin for a new drug which seeks to slow down the degenerative effects of Alzheimer's disease.
Leslie Perez, a researcher at the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM), remarked that the clinical trials for the drug, "NeuroEpo", will begin after being approved by the Center for Drug Control, Equipment and Medical Devices.
Around 300 clinical trials are undertaken worldwide each year for drugs against Alzheimer's disease, but this will be the first in Cuba.
Perez warned that the therapy does not prevent or eliminate Alzheimer's disease, but stressed that the preclinical results are encouraging in terms of slowing down the deterioration patients "inevitably" suffer.
"Alzheimer's disease is produced by the deposition of abnormal proteins (p-tau and b-Amyloid42) in our brains. NeuroEpo has not demonstrated that it can eliminate these proteins", Perez was quoted as saying by Cuba's official daily, Granma.
However, due to its neuroprotective effects, NeuroEpo is expected to delay the deposition of the proteins, thus reducing the disease's rate of progression and the severity of its clinical manifestations, she said.
"Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease which does not retreat, and it will always advance. What we want is to help delay that degenerative process and improve the quality of life of that person (the patient) and their family," she said.
Dr. Jorge J. Libre Guerra, a researcher from Cuba's National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, the trial will begin with patients in the early stages of the disease, with NeuroEpo being administered intranasally.
A study on aging developed by Cuban experts determined that at present, 160,000 people suffer from dementia on the island, a figure that could reach 300,000 people by 2040.
According to the investigation, Alzheimer's is the most common neurodegenerative disease for those aged over 60 and the sixth leading cause of death in Cuba. It was also ranked as the disease with the greatest impact on economy, social and health conditions.