난공불락 알츠하이머… 연구 패러다임 바뀐다

 

그동안 난공불락이던 알츠하이머병에 대한 연구는 최근 방향을 틀고 있다. 신약 개발에 기울인 노력에 걸맞은 큰 진전이 눈에 띄지 않자 진행성 질환이라는 데 초점을 맞춘 연구들이 이어지고 있다. 예방과 초기 치료가 훨씬 효과적이라는 인식이 자리매김한 것이다.

유럽에서는 알츠하이머병 예방 가능성을 높이기 위한 대규모 연구가 진행된다. 치매 진행 전 단계인 알츠하이머병 초기 증상에 대한 이해를 돕기 위해 학계와 제약업계에서 35개 파트너가 참여하는 ‘유럽 알츠하이머성 치매 예방 계획(EPAD, European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia)‘이 추진될 예정이다.

12일 이 연구에 참여하는 베링거인겔하임에 따르면 EPAD는 유럽연합과 유럽제약산업협회가 공동으로 추진 중인 혁신 의약품 계획에 포함된 5개년 장기 연구 프로그램이다. 알츠하이머병 예방을 위한 혁신적인 치료제를 연구하는 학계와 민간 부문의 새로운 협력 모델이기도 하다.

EPAD는 알치하이머병으로 인한 임상적 증상이 거의 없거나 전혀 나타나지 않았지만, 구체적 검사를 통해 생체표지자 이상 등이 확인된 사람에 대한 알츠하이머병 예방을 목표로 하고 있다. 특히 해당 환자의 식별과 진료 위탁을 가속화하고, 여러 개의 치료 옵션을 빠르게 시험하는 등 다양한 이점을 제공할 것으로 기대를 모으고 있다.

EPAD 책임자인 에든버러대학교 노인정신의학과 크레이그 리치 교수는 “알츠하이머병의 이해와 관리 방법을 근본적으로 개선하기 위한 대규모 국제 프로그램의 하나로써 알츠하이머병 예방 치료의 패러다임을 바꿀 수 있는 혁신적인 결과를 도출해낼 수 있을 것”으로 기대했다.

배민철 기자 mcbae2000@kormedi.com

저작권ⓒ '건강을 위한 정직한 지식' 코메디닷컴(http://kormedi.com) / 무단전재-재배포 금지

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