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China approves Alzheimer's medicine based on seaweed. This is the first new one in 17 years

A seaweed-based drug called Oligomannate can be used to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's, according to a statement from the Chinese Drug Safety Agency. However, approval is conditional, which means that while it may be sold during additional clinical trials, it will be strictly monitored and may be withdrawn if safety concerns arise.

In September, the team behind the new drug, led by Gen Mayu of the Shanghai Institute of Matter Medicine at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said they were inspired to look for algae because of the relatively low incidence of Alzheimer's among people who consume it regularly .

In an article in Cell Research, Gene's team described how sugar contained in seaweed suppresses certain bacteria contained in the gut that can cause nerve degeneration and inflammation of the brain, leading to Alzheimer's disease.
This mechanism was confirmed during a clinical trial conducted by Green Valley, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Shanghai, which will introduce the new drug to the market.

Carried out on 81

8 patients, the study found that oligonate – derived from brown algae – could statistically improve cognitive function among Alzheimer's people in just four weeks, according to a Green Valley statement.

"These results support our understanding of the mechanisms that play a role in Alzheimer's disease and suggest that the gut microbiome is a valid target for the development of therapies," neurologist Philip Sheltens, who advises Green Valley and runs the Alzheimer's Center Amsterdam, the statement said.

The company has stated that Oligomannate will be available in China "shortly" and is currently seeking approval for its release abroad, planning to launch a third phase of clinical trials in the US and Europe in early 2020.

Alzheimer's, which starts with memory loss and escalates to severe brain damage, is estimated to cause 60% to 70% of dementia reported worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Dementia affects around 50 million people worldwide, including 9.5 million in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Named Alois Alzheimer, the neurologist who discovered the disease in 1906 has so far confused researchers and pharmaceutical companies. [19659008] In October, US pharmaceutical giant Biogen said it would receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an experimental treatment called aducanumab after announcing in March that it was canceling a major clinical trial for the drug.

Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly have all previously abandoned projects to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease after unsatisfactory clinical data.

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