Tau Therapies in the Pipeline (one to be studied in PSP in late 2015)

As you may know, Alzheimer’s is a disorder involving two proteins — tau and amyloid.  Tau gets misfolded into tangles in Alzheimer’s.  These tau tangles are also part of PSP and CBD.  There has been a push over the last few years — largely led by Adam Boxer, MD, at UCSF (well, that’s my view of things) — that Alzheimer’s drugs targeting tau are best studied in PSP.  More precisely, they are best studied in the Richardson’s Syndrome form of PSP (PSP-RS).

There are several reasons for this.  One is that atrophy occurs in the PSP-RS brain at a faster rate than in an AD brain.  Another is that PSP is a disorder of tau only so it’s ideal to study a tau-busting drug in PSP.  Another the diagnostic accuracy for PSP-RS is quite high.  Also, it is easier to get a PSP drug trial approved by the FDA since PSP is considered a rare disorder.

The Alzheimer’s Association held at International Conference in mid-July in Denmark.  Alzforum, a website for Alzheimer’s researchers, posted a write-up in mid-August of the tau-related research reported at the conference:


The write-up summarizes the research this way:

“Potential therapies included two active vaccines, an antibody, an inhibitor of the enzyme that removes sugar molecules from tau, and an anti-aggregating compound. Most scientists are planning, or have already started, tests in humans.”

Other than those sentences and a few other general sentences, the tau therapies write-up is pretty hard to understand.  Of course I tried harder to understand when “PSP” was mentioned.

One research group plans for human studies in late 2015 in PSP with a compound that it hopes will disrupt the aggregation of tau.

Remember that there is currently a safety study going on at UCSF in both PSP and CBS with intravenous infusions of an experimental drug aimed at tau.  There are four infusions over a nine week period.  See:


Hopefully one of these efforts will pan out for PSP, CBD, and AD!