Is This Drug the Key to an Alzheimer’s Cure?

27 | By Michael A. Robinson

It isn’t just the lousy outlook for Social Security that has so many of us worrying about our Golden Years.

It’s also the reality that one out of every eight people who read this will suffer from the one affliction that Golden Agers fear the most.

I’m talking, of course, about Alzheimer’s, a disease that already affects more than five million Americans. And with the aging of the nation’s Baby Boomers, the number of Alzheimer’s cases is set to quadruple.

It’s not just the nightmarish symptoms – and the impact the disease will have on our families – that leave us feeling both fearful and frustrated. It’s the inability to fight back that adds a feeling of helplessness to it all.

You see, of the Top 10 causes of death by disease, Alzheimer’s is the only one that cannot be cured, treated or slowed down.

But that may be about to change – and a vaccine could soon be at hand …

A research team at Canada’s Université Laval has just discovered a way to stimulate the brain’s natural defense system to combat Alzheimer’s.

This bit of breakthrough research could supercharge the race for the cure.

There’s even a way for you to invest – today.

And I’m glad to be able to tell you about this new finding, which has put drug giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC (NYSE ADR: GSK) at the forefront of a potential blockbuster. Turns out the mega-cap Big Pharma firm played a major role in the research.

In a sense, this as a “hidden cure.” But it’s probably more accurate to describe it as having been “hidden in plain sight.”

You see, the molecule that could play the key role in all this – think of it as the “active ingredient” – has been in GSK’s portfolio for several years now. The firm has been using it as an additive to increase the human body’s immune response to GSK vaccines.

This means the substance – known as MPL (monophosophoryl lipid A) – has received extensive use on a wide range of patients all over the country.

Thus, its safety record is clearly known, which should give GSK a bit of a leg up with the FDA when the company decides to pursue a product approval for MPL.

That’s one of the issues with biotech or pharmaceutical investing. The FDA must make sure that all drugs approved for sale are both safe and effective. That’s why clinical trials are so necessary, but can also be so time-consuming and expensive.

(Just to give you some context: It can take a decade and $1 billion or more to bring a new drug to market.)

Given the time and expense we’re talking about here, anything that can cut the time and cost involved with bringing a new — but still safe — drug to market is certain to be a boon to both patients and investors.

There’s always a lot at stake. But the need is particularly acute when it comes to Alzheimer’s.

Last year alone the direct costs of “dementia” cases (of which Alzheimer’s is the No. 1 cause) totaled some $200 billion. Without a treatment of some sort, experts say those costs will soar to more than $1 trillion by the middle of this century.

Of course, there’s no guarantee MPL will in fact work once it’s tested on humans (though I think the chances look great at this point). Just last month I told you how three big firms had to stop working on Alzheimer’s drugs because the patients in the tests just didn’t get any better.

No doubt, that was a blow for patients, their loved ones and investors in Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

This may explain why GSK’s stock has barely budged since news of the potential new treatment came to light 10 days ago.

But I believe this vaccine is poised to succeed where the other drug candidates failed.

There’s a major difference between this drug and the failed predecessors, and it starts with the brain itself.

One of the main problems with Alzheimer’s is that the disease allows the brain to get soaked with a toxic molecule known as amyloid beta.

This overwhelms the nervous system’s defenders, which are microglial cells. Because those cells can’t get rid of amyloid beta, the brain builds up deposits called “senile plaques.”

Spanning 12 weeks of research, team members gave weekly shots to mice with Alzheimer’s symptoms. Here’s the amazing thing: After the mice got the treatments, 80% of their senile plaques were gone.

Then the mice got tested on how well they could learn new tasks. Over that same three-month period, the mice showed marked improvement in their ability to think clearly.

Besides using MPL as a vaccine to stop Alzheimer’s, the Laval-GSK team sees it as a possible treatment for those who already have the deadly brain disease. In that type of situation, patients would get a shot in one of their muscles so the compound could take root in the body and slow the disease down.

Once investors really assess what’s in play here, I believe they’ll take a closer look at GSK shares.

Don’t let them the masses get the jump on you: GSK currently has a market cap of about $108 billion, and the company’s shares are trading at roughly $44 each. With a consensus target of nearly $50 (about 13% above Friday’s close) – and a hefty yield of 5.3% – you’ll be well-compensated for your patience.

And the Alzheimer’s drug could provide one heck of a subsequent tailwind …

Let me close by noting that this is the second promising Alzheimer’s treatment from Big Pharma in the last few months. I recently told you about how Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX) had made progress with Gammagard, a drug given to patients intravenously.

Baxter says that four patients who received its new drug in trials showed no decline in memory or thinking skills. The drug contains antibodies that may help remove amyloid, says Baxter, which plans to test the treatment on 400 patients … perhaps by the end of this year.

If there’s a common takeaway from these two research initiatives, it’s simply this: These advances show that we’re on the verge of a breakthrough treatment in the battle against Alzheimer’s. For the first time ever, there’s cause for optimism in this campaign – for patients and for investors.

Those are the kinds of opportunities that we search for, and that we’ll continue to bring you, here in the Era of Radical Change.


27 Responses to Is This Drug the Key to an Alzheimer’s Cure?

  1. Anonymole says:

    Michael, Thanks for staying abreast of these topics and relating them to is in your newsletter, they are informative and hope giving.

    • Michael Robinson says:

      Hi Richard, Not sure where you’re coming from in terms of investing philosophy. But let me say this: I’m writing about a possible vaccine. The idea is to use it so folks don’t get sick in the first place, thus not needing drugs or very few of them. It also has the benefit that it might work as a “drug” once people actually get sick. Hope that helps,


    • Michael Robinson says:

      Hi Jerry, yes it does and here’s the link. Plug that symbol in at Google or Yahoo finance and the info should come up. I linked to it in the story as well, so if all else fails, follow that link.



      • Michael Robinson says:

        Oops, actually I can’t put the link in this forum. So, plug that into your investment site or follow the link in the story, Michael

  2. Curtis Hatheway says:

    My wife has Alzheimers. We’vli been battling it for about 6 years. It seems to be progressing quite slowly (perhaps due to ‘namenda’. Do you think there is any hope of a treatment being available soon. I underestand the average life span for Alzsheimers patients is 8 years. Curt

  3. Gregory says:

    My Grandmother is in dire need of something like this. I can only hope it’s not just another B.S. money grab for an already disgustingly wealthy group of drug companies. If they really want to make a difference then give it at cost. Enough profiteering from the elderly!!!

    • Mike Phillips says:

      If everyone had your attitude, we would still be using leaches for treatment. Drug development and trials cost billions and most are not successful.. When one works, the company gets to recover money spent on the failures. We support the effort by buying stock in companies while the expenses go on.

  4. CHRISTINE says:

    There is no substitute for a healthy brain; our are exposed to a battery of environmental toxins. Lack of ionic minerals and clean fresh food –without GMOs is crucial. Mental stimulation and physical exercise will go farther.

  5. William Clapp says:

    STOP! Do not invest a single penny into this research. It is the same exact approach they have tried in the past and failed miserably. Amyloid plaques are the result of the disease not the cause. Ask the makers of Blaupuminosab or whatever the heck the name of it was why they had to end their trial early, before they killed anyone else. The cause is the immune system attacking the brain with TNF, causing swelling and tissue damage. There is a treatment that has been available for 15 years and it works. I know because my father has been on it for five years and is doing much better now than than before treatment began.

    • Gracen says:

      So what is the treatment that your father is receiving?
      I’m interested because my wife is now showing signs of significant memory and reasoning loss.

      • Jock Boyd says:

        My wife is showing early signs of Alzheimers and I would like any information on your father’s treatment which I can check with her Dr.
        Many thanks

      • William Clapp says:

        Go to the web site (Institute for Neurological Research). The treatment is an injection of Perispinal Etanercept which is delivered to the spinal blood supply and patient inverted for 10 minutes allowing the drug to cross the blood brain barrier. Once inside the crainiel cavity in goes to work eliminating the TNF in the area, or something to that affect, and this allows the swelling and inflammation to be reduced dramatically. This is what causes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Tobinick, the discoverer of this treatment has been treating Alzheimer’s patients for more than 14 years and Stroke victims for the past 3 to 4 years with very dramatic results. I will check back here again if you need more assistance finding the good doctor. He has one clinic UCLA and another in Florida. He has written and published more than 85 articles in medical journals. This is no joke, unlike the Glaxo BS.

  6. Jai Pleskacz says:

    How does Etanercept or it’s more commonly known trade name Enbrel fit in this approach? Apparently etanercept has been used quite successfully to treat brain injuries.

  7. Richard Kondrat says:

    Stephen S. Hall wrote a good review recently called “The Dementia Plague”.
    It appears in the MIT Technology Review, Vol 115, #6 (Nov/Dec 2012).
    He describes previous attempts and failures in seeking a cure for dementia and Alzheimers. He does speak about current efforts in this regard as well. Anyone seriuosly interested in knowing about this issue and/or investing in it should read this article first. In essencence he writes that dementia is a far more complex disease than researchers first imagined. For example, “amyloid beta” is only one aspect of this problem. Tau protiens play some part in this disease as well. The link between these two chemical species is not yet known.

  8. Richard Wagner says:

    My wife has Parkinson’s disease. It affects her motor skills in the A.M. until 10:30. She then is normal until about 7:00 P.M. Is there any possibility that this new found cure can be associated with my wife’s porblem? It is a problem associated with lack of dopa .

  9. marilyn rodriguez says:

    My mom has Alzheimers. She is in the last stage. It’s to late to save my mom, but it would be wonderful if a cure is found. Keep me posted.

  10. William Clapp says:

    Sorry, the link I gave you earlier was incorrect and when I tried to put in the actual link, this blog wouldn’t allow it. I’m sure that you can find it if you look for the Institute for Neurological Research. Don’t give up, you will not regret it.

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  12. Bart Stephens says:

    My wife is about 1/2 way to Alzheimers, do you see a drug approval in the next two or three years?? Thanks, Bart

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