Ana Pereira, MD: Repurposing Riluzole for Alzheimer Disease

October 20, 2020
Ana Pereira, MD

The assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Mount Sinai Medical Center detailed the promise marked by the results of a recent pilot trial of riluzole in Alzheimer disease.

“We need a larger study to really establish better both efficacy and safety in this population, which is Alzheimer disease.”

A common approach in some trials of therapies for Alzheimer disease has been to attempt to repurpose already available agents for the neurodegenerative disease. Ana Pereira, MD, assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience, Mount Sinai Medical Center, recently led a pilot study that took this very approach with a drug familiar to those treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), riluzole.

This study, which included just under 50 patients, assessed the glutaminergic agent in patients with Alzheimer disease. Riluzole treatment met the primary end point—showing significantly less decline in areas of interest in the brain, as measured by fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET. As well, the second outcome measures showed a strong correlation between cognitive measures, such as the ADAS-cog, and FDG-PET brain metabolism with riluzole treatment. The findings were presented at the virtual Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation International Conference.

To find out more about why this repurposing effort was undertaken and what the clinical community should take away from these data, NeurologyLive spoke with Pereria in an interview. She explained how these data spark an interest for her to continue moving forward with its assessment and noted that a larger study will ultimately still be necessary to confirm the potential of the drug. Pereira also expressed her gratitude for the patients in the trial and their commitment to partnering in this attempt at discover