New drug shows hope for treatment of dog dementia

While your senior dog is unlikely to forget where he left his glasses, he can still have the occasional senior moment. Like forgetting the way home on your daily walk together.

He could be suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), the doggy version of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in humans. AD affects one in three human seniors. About 40% of companion dogs aged 12 or older develop CCD.

But for dogs, as with humans, there’s currently no cure.

Ropesalazine could change that.

A leading drug candidate for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in humans, Ropesalazine has shown promising results in a pilot clinical trial conducted for dogs with CCD.

CCD is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder of senior dogs characterized by altered interaction with family, disorientation, sleep and wake cycle changes, increased house soiling, and activity change. It’s accompanied by nerve cell death, amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles similar to AD in humans.

That similarity is what led GNT Pharma researchers to design the pilot study to investigate whether Ropesalazine would alleviate signs of CCD, as well.

Ropesalazine is a multitarget drug to prevent both inflammation and free radicals that contribute to nerve cell death, amyloid plaque production, and neurofibrillary tangle formation which are pathological hallmarks of AD.

The Ropesalazine study was conducted on six companion dogs age 10 or older who revealed severe cognitive dysfunction according to canine cognitive dysfunction and canine dementia rating scales. Within eight weeks following daily oral administration of Ropesalazine, all six dogs returned to a normal range of cognitive function and daily activity.

“The companion dogs failed to recognize their owners before the treatment,” said Jae Bong Moon, DVM, head of Irion Animal Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, and lead researcher on the study. “It was so amazing to see the dogs [who] wagged their tails for their owners and cuddled up to them within eight weeks of Ropesalazine treatment. [It] appeared to cure CCD.”

The findings were in keeping with previous research on the efficacy of Ropesalazine treatments on mice.

Ropesalazine was found to attenuate nerve cell death and amyloid plaques as well as inflammation and oxidative stress in transgenic AD mice models, and it reduced cognitive deficit in APP/PS1 AD mice at early, moderate, and late stages.

Most dogs, regardless of breed, experience some form of CCD as they age. In a study conducted by the Behavior Clinic at the University of California at Davis, researchers found that 28% of dogs aged 11 to 12 years, and 68% of dogs aged 15 to 16 years, showed one or more signs of cognitive impairment.

GT Pharma will move toward the next clinical study for approval of Ropesalazine as a drug for the treatment of CCD. They hope to launch the drug for treatment in companion animals in 2019.

Photo credit: © iStock/Mary Wandler

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