Authorities in China have approved a drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, the first new medicine with the potential to treat the cognitive disorder in 17 years.

The seaweed-based drug, called Oligomannate, can be used for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's, according to a statement from China's drug safety agency.

The approval is conditional however, meaning that while it can go on sale during additional clinical trials, it will be strictly monitored and could be withdrawn should any safety issues arise.

In September, the team behind the new drug, led by Geng Meiyu at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said they were inspired to look into seaweed due to the relatively low incidence of Alzheimer's among people who consume it regularly.

In a paper in the journal Cell Research, Geng's team described how a sugar contained within seaweed suppresses certain bacteria contained in the gut which can cause neural degeneration and inflammation of the brain, leading to Alzheimer's.
耿美玉的团队在《Cell Research》杂志的一篇论文中描述了海藻中的糖如何抑制肠道中某些细菌的,这些细菌会导致神经退化和大脑炎症,从而导致老年痴呆。

This mechanism was confirmed during a clinical trial carried out by Green Valley, a Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company that will be bringing the new drug to market.

Conducted on 818 patients, the trial found that Oligomannate -- which is derived from brown algae -- can statistically improve cognitive function among people with Alzheimer's in as little as four weeks, according to a statement from Green Valley.

"These results advance our understanding of the mechanisms that play a role in Alzheimer's disease and imply that the gut microbiome is a valid target for the development of therapies," neurologist Philip Scheltens, who advises Green Valley and heads the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam, said in the statement.
神经学家Philip Scheltens是绿谷制药公司顾问,也是阿姆斯特丹阿尔茨海默症中心负责人,他在声明中说:“这些结果促进了我们对阿尔茨海默症发病机制的理解,并暗示肠道微生物群是治疗发展的有效靶点。”