China OKs first new drug for Alzheimer’s in 17 years

Nov. 4, 2019

China’s regulatory authority has approved a new treatment for Alzheimer’s based on seaweed.

Researchers of the drug at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica say they got the idea to develop the treatment, called oligomannate, after observing that people who regularly ate seaweed contracted Alzheimer’s at a lower rate. Ultimately, the scientists said they discovered that seaweed can suppress a bacteria in the gut that can trigger neural inflammation.

Clinical trials for the treatment were led by Shanghai-based Green Valley Pharmaceuticals, a pharma company that specializes in carbohydrate drug innovation. According to the company, trial results showed an improvement in cognitive function in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s as early as four weeks after the start of treatments. oligomannate was reportedly as effective at slowing the progressions of Alzheimer’s with fewer side effects than acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, the standard treatment for the disease.

The approval of oligomannate is the first new go-ahead for an Alzheimer’s treatment since 2003. 

Chinese regulators said they will continue to monitor the safety of oligomannate, a low molecule acid oligosaccharide compound extracted from marine brown algae, after it becomes commercially available.

The company plans to begin trials abroad for overseas approval next year.

Read the press release.