This article was originally published in Start Up
Fresh insights and tools are empowering start-ups pursuing treatments for Alzheimer's disease.
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Researchers have identified a new target in Alzheimer's disease--the natural substrate of an enzyme that itself has long been a target for AD drug development. That the molecule appears to be druggable is itself a surprising observation that may offer valuable insight into how to improve AD drugs. More than that, however, it suggests that substrates of protease inhibitors may provide a completely new set of drug targets in a variety of diseases.
Even as researchers continue the debate around whether the plaque formation characteristic of Alzheimer's Disease precedes or follows the neurological abnormalities that eventually cause dementia, a new imaging study has shown that plaques are a critical mediator in AD development, bolstering the notion that removing them or ultimately targeting the processes that lead to plaque formation are valid therapeutic strategies.
Building Alzheimer's-focused companies remains difficult, in part because venture capital remains scarce. But advancese in diagnostic and imaging tools, improved means of measuring the impact of drugs on cognition, and a better understanding of therapeutic targets mean investment risks are improving, say some executives and VCs. Can Alzheimer's attract more mainstream VC investment and pay off with more lucrative deals like Pfizer's acquisition of Rinat?