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China Approves New Seaweed-Based Alzheimer’s Drug

Ann Nuñez

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  • Called Oligomannate, the seaweed-based drug is the first to come out in 17 years
  • The full approval of the drug depends on the findings of safety studies
  • Oligomannate will be available in China by the end of 2019 while global trials are scheduled to start in 2020

China has just approved a seaweed-based drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceuticals, the company behind the drug, announced that China’s National Medical Products Association (NMPA) has given conditional approval for the use of Oligomannate to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Oligomannate, or GV-971, is composed of oligosaccharides obtained from brown algae. A team of scientists led by Geng Meiyu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has found that the sugars contained in the brown algae suppressed gut bacteria which caused neural degeneration and brain inflammation.

Researchers’ interest was sparked by reports of low Alzheimer’s incidence among elderly people who consumed the seaweed.
Photo Source: Xinhua/Jin Liwang

Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug provided statistical evidence of its ability to improve cognitive function among patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Although the clinical trials show promising results, other researchers are calling for larger trials of the drug in order to further elucidate the drug’s mechanism of action.

Green Valley Pharmaceuticals has announced that the drug will be available in China by the end of the year. It also plans to launch a multi-center clinical trial, with sites in the United States, Europe, and Asia in early 2020.

According to the United States National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s disease is an “irreversible and progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys a person’s memory and thinking skills, and eventually, the ability to carry out the simple tasks“.

Alzheimer’s disease alters the brain structure of a person, with abnormal protein deposits forming amyloid plaques and tau tangles all throughout the brain. The cause of Alzheimer’s is still not fully understood, although scientists believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors contribute to its development.

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