"This is a long process. We are really at the initial steps of design," he said. "If the original idea is good, usually people think it takes seven to 10 years to design a drug that will work in humans."
Dr. Sam Gandy, chairman of the Alzheimer's Association's National Medical and Scientific Advisory Council, said he was impressed by the quality of the new research, but he cautioned that similar kinds of findings have turned out to be "flashes in the pan."
The research "dovetails nicely" with existing knowledge regarding calcium and the degeneration of the brain, Gandy said. Ultimately, however, the true impact of the CALMH1 gene discovery will depend on future genetic research, he said.
In another development involving Alzheimer's research, scientists reported this week that studies with mice have helped them gain more knowledge into how a component of protein plaques appears to be directly related to the disease in some cases, but not in others.
The findings could help scientists gain greater understanding into why some people -- but not all -- who have plaques in brain tissue appear to have symptoms of the disease.
Learn more about Alzheimer's from the Alzheimer's Association.
SOURCES: Philippe Marambaud, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., chair, National Medical and Scientific Advisory Council, Alzheimer's Association, and professor of Alzheimer's disease research, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; June 27, 2008, Cell
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