in the pipeline

A new up-and-coming drug in the pipeline, which has been already tested for cancer and HIV/AIDs, now gets analyzed for its ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease.


The drug pipeline is a term used to describe pharmaceutical drugs that are currently under discovery or development. Although these drugs are not yet approved for sale in the pharmaceutical market, they are often viewed as the potential future of medical treatment. One such drug, Bryostatin-1, has been tested in cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, and is currently being tested for its ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Bryostatin-1 is produced by isolating this natural product from bugula neritana, a water species that is commonly mistaken for seaweed. Bryostatin-1 is a modulator of protein kinase C(PKC) – a group of proteins involved in signal transduction cascades within the cell in response to stimuli from the environment. The functions of PKC include regulating transcription, mediating immune responses, and regulating cell growth.

Bryostatin-1 has been previously tested for its anti-cancer effects, but research into cancer has been halted because its risks-to-benefits were not good enough to warrant further research. Recently, the effects of Bryostatin-1 on Alzheimer’s disease have been tested in clinical trials. Neurotrope Bioscience, Inc. has conducted Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials on Bryostatin-1 to assess its safety, tolerability and effectiveness in 15 Alzheimer’s patients. Patients in the study were randomized into two groups: one receiving a placebo, and the other receiving Bryostatin-1. Researchers administered the drug or placebo one time for one hour through IV infusion and evaluated patient outcomes up to 4 weeks after the infusion. Researchers looked for adverse events and efficacy of Bryostatin-1 through the use of the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised.

In the group taking the placebo IV, one patient experienced dizziness, one experienced headaches and another experienced a rash; in comparison, only one patient in the Bryostatin-1 group experience a headache and no other adverse events were recorded. Other outcomes, including pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and efficacy of Bryostatin-1 have not been reported yet.

Bryostatin-1 is still being studied for its effects in different diseases, and its methods of action in Alzheimer’s treatment is under analysis. Whether this pipeline drug will prove effective and safe for market sale is still to be determined.


Written By: Alexandra Lostun, HBSc

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