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Growth hormone 'fails to slow Alzheimer's disease'

Growth hormone 'fails to slow Alzheimer's disease'
18th November 2008

A new study has suggested that a growth hormone drug does not slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease in humans.

In a sample of 416 individuals with mild to moderate forms of the disease, half were treated with the investigational compound known as MK-677 and the other half were given a placebo, according to the findings published in the Neurology journal.

Although earlier studies suggested that a similar drug treatment had shown improvements in mice, in the human study it was found that while the drug was effective in increasing levels of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) - which was thought to stem the growth of unwanted plaque in the brain - Alzheimer's symptoms did not improve.

"This work suggests that targeting this hormone system may not be an effective approach to slowing the rate of Alzheimer’s disease progression," commented study author JJ Sevigny, of Merck Research Laboratories.

According to the scientist, the data also "challenges the common theory" that the plaque in the brain is attacked by the hormones.

Meanwhile a separate study published in the Archives of Neurology has suggested that more educated people may be able to withstand the symptoms of Alzheimer's for longer than other patients.

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