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World's largest Alzheimer's drug trial

13th March 2006

A firm in the US is set to begin the largest ever trial of a drug for Alzheimer's disease.

Myriad Genetics from Utah is to test Flurizan on some 1,600 patients over the next 18 months.

The drug is believed to slow the development of the disease and has already proved effective on a much smaller number of patients with a moderate form of the illness.

The Salt Lake firm is hoping to become the first company to produce a drug capable of slowing the disease for the mass market, although they have stiff competition from a number of international firms, including Canadian outfit Neurochem, which hopes to have completed a test on 1,000 patients by early next year.

"I want somebody to win this," Dr Bill Thies, scientific director of the Alzheimer's Association, told USA Today.

"I don't particularly care if it's Myriad or one of its competitors."

The drug is thought to prevent production of the beta-amyloid protein, which causes plaque to build up in cells.

Recent research suggests that protein build up may lead to the onset of the disease.