UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Anti-malaria drug does not appear to help with human prion diseases.

9 March 2009

Reported by Reuters -"The anti-malaria drug quinacrine does not appear to extend the lives of people with the human form of mad cow disease, despite encouraging results from experiments with mice, British researchers said on Tuesday. Their study of 107 volunteers showed some people who took the drug showed some improvement but that it was not possible to tell whether this was due to the medicine, researchers said.

The patients had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or CJD, a fatal brain-wasting illness in a family of diseases called prion diseases. These include mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, scrapie in sheep, and a new form of CJD that has infected fewer than 200 people worldwide who ate BSE-contaminated meat products.

"After adjusting for the substantial differences between patients who chose to take quinacrine or not, we did not find any evidence that oral quinacrine at a dose of 300 mg a day increased the length of survival of patients with prion disease," John Collinge of University College London (IoN Department of Neurodegenerative Disease & MRC Prion Unit) and colleagues wrote in the journal Lancet Neurology.

Currently there are no drugs that prevent or reverse the disease, though quinacrine has shown promise in treating prion-infected mouse cells because it can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the researchers said...

"Future studies will need a design that provides unequivocal answers on treatment efficacy," he wrote in the Lancet Neurology. (Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Maggie Fox and Jon Boyle).

read more >> Reuters

reference >> The Lancet Neurology, 10 March 2009doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(09)70049-3
Safety and efficacy of quinacrine in human prion disease (PRION-1 study): a patient-preference trial. John Collinge MD et al