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Cancer drug may also provide hope for Alzheimer's patients


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Cancer drug may also provide hope for Alzheimer's patients

By Denise Wong. CREATED Sep 12, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health have started doing a clinical trial to determine if a drug called bexarotene, that's currently FDA-approved to treat skin cancer, can remove a protein build-up in the brains of Alzheimer's study, as it did in a recent study using mice.

"The neat thing about this drug was that it was already approved for the treatment of cancer. so we realized that we could go ahead and give it to Alzheimer's patients and see whether the same thing happened to them," said Dr. Cummings.

This summer, the center started enrolling Alzheimer's patients in the two-month long study. So far, they have eight patients taking part and they still need more peope to participate.

One of the participants is Patricia Mullen, who lives in Las Vegas with her husband.

"Well, I feel like I've got to at least do something worthwhile with what I've got left," she said. "That maybe it will help somebody else even though this probably won't be developed in time to help me. It will be good for somebody else, somewhere."

Dr. Cummings explained how this drug may provide promise for Alzheimer's patients. He said that there's a toxic protein called amyloid that accumulates on the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Studies using mice show that bexarotene can reduce that build-up on the brain. He said that when that protein was removed from the brains of the mice, they regained some of their cognitive ability.

Dr. Cummings said there are 28,000 Nevadans affected by Alzheimer's disease. He is hoping that this drug can provide the hope they're looking for.

They're still looking for people to be a part of this clinical trial. If you know someone with Alzheimer's who may be interested, call 702-685-7073 or email

Dr. Cummings said he hopes to finish the clinical trial by the end of this year or early next year. That's when they will be able to determine if this drug provides the promise for Alzheimer's disease that they're hoping it does.