Alzheimer’s disease treatment uses anti-seizure meds to slow memory loss

An Indiana neuroscience pharmaceutical company hopes it can gain entry into the market for Alzheimer’s disease treatment with experimental drugs it thinks could prevent the progression of the disease in the growing population of seniors.

Based on the work of Dr. Michela Gallagher of John Hopkins University, AgeneBio of Indianapolis is working to slow the progression of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease in aging adults.

For its lead product, the company is repurposing an existing anti-seizure medication to prevent the progression of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s using the drug as a neural stabilizer to normalize excess neural activity, which the company’s proof of concept trial results released last summer showed contributes to brain dysfunction associated with memory loss.


According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Discovery Foundation, aMCI affects 3 million Americans, 15 percent of whose condition progresses to Alzheimer’s disease each year.

A recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that AgeneBio is seeking fresh capital for its next move. It has already raised $3.7 million from 27 investors in a $5 million offering. So far, the startup formed in 2008 has been supported heavily by grants; it was awarded more than $316,000 in 2009 and 2010 from the state of Indiana’s Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Program, $240,000 from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and $300,000 from Indiana’s BioCrossroads.

Its second product is a novel approach to a GABA target, according to its website.

AgeneBio is just one of hundreds of companies looking to capitalize on the growing market for Alzheimer’s treatment, which is forecast to more than triple from $4.3 billion in 2009 to $13.3 billion in 2019 in seven major markets, according to Decision Resources.  As baby boomers age, the race is on to advance treatment from traditional therapies that address Alzheimer’s symptoms to new treatments that can slow, stop or even prevent the disease.

AgeneBio CEO Robert Postlethwait is a 30-year Eli Lilly alumnus who served as president of the pharma giant’s Neuroscience Product Group. He told Inside Indiana Business earlier this year that the company’s next challenge is finding a biomarker that shows its drug is improving patients’ memory. A call requesting an interview was not returned.

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