Xanamem™ has been specifically developed in response to the recent research findings that show a strong association between chronically elevated cortisol levels in the blood and brain, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Data consistently shows an association between increased cortisol and cognitive decline, and the development of abnormal β-amyloid protein plaques and neurotoxicity in the brain – the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Xanamem™’s novel mechanism of action is to block the activity of a specific enzyme in the brain, the 11β-HSD1 enzyme. This enzyme activates cortisone into the active “stress hormone”, cortisol. The enzyme is particularly highly concentrated in two key areas of the brain – the hippocampus and the frontal cortex. These are the regions of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and are the parts of the brain most associated with recent memory and behaviour.
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Cortisol is more generally recognised as the “stress hormone” and is produced is times of physical and mental stress. While this response is quite normal, it has been shown that if the cortisol remains elevated for long periods of time, it does become pathological. Patients with elevated cortisol include those with diabetes, with depression, schizophrenia and PTSD, and many patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, blood cortisol levels tend to also rise over time as one normally ages.
Xanamem™ was discovered by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and has been under development for the past decade, supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust. In late 2014, Actinogen Medical acquired the global rights to Xamamem™, with the commitment to actively progress the clinical development of this very promising compound. Actinogen Medical has now completed all the preliminary developmental research for Xanamem™, and is about to commence a definitive study to demonstrate the efficacy of Xanamem™ in patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease.