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which means that while it may be sold during additional clinical trials, it will be strictly monitored and may be withdrawn if safety concerns arise.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 .
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"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.
Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly have all previously abandoned projects to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease after unsatisfactory clinical data.