By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Alzheimer’s disease affects 44 million people worldwide, and the worry of a loved one getting it strikes fear in most of us.

But now a South Side-based company is testing a new drug to combat Alzheimer’s.

Cognition Therapeutics says Pittsburgh is a great place for their research.

“We’ve got a culture here of innovation with the universities. We have a huge population of neurobiologists, and we’re nestled on the South Side in a wonderful lab,” says Dr. Hank Safferstein, recently named CEO of the company.

Safferstein appeared on the Sunday Business Page not long ago to talk about their drug, CT1812.

“The drug is going to be given to patients who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” Safferstein told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

“Many of the therapeutics these days that are being developed have to be given before the disease even presents itself, but the way we’ve approached the disease and the way the drug works will be effective even when the patient’s been diagnosed,” Safferstein said. “We’re going to be testing it in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.”

KDKA’s Jon Delano: “Will the idea here be to stop the growth of Alzheimer’s, or could you reverse it?”

Safferstein: “Well, we don’t know yet. We got to get in the patients. But in the animal models what we saw is a reversal of the cognitive deficit in the trans-genitive animal models that have Alzheimer’s, and we hope we will see things of that sort, those kinds of effects, in humans as well.”

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A drug that could not only stop Alzheimer’s but reverse its effects?

John Manzetti, of the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, that has invested in the South Side company, says this could be big.

“We’ve helped about 134 products get to market so far. And we’re hoping,” he said. “I think this is going to be the biggest one when it gets to market. People are going to wonder, how did this come out of Pittsburgh?”

The FDA has signed off on human testing of CT1812, which means, says Safferstein, “The idea is to make this drug available to as many folks as we can through clinical trials that we’ll be doing.”