Trending News Today: Leukemia Drug May Also Treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Clover Health is involved in a deal to raise approximately $120 million in new capital at a valuation of more than $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. The health insurance startup is seeking to become “the largest health care company in the United States.” Currently, the NJ-based company provides Medicare Advantage plans to seniors across the state.

Investigators are hopeful that an FDA-approved cancer drug that treats a rare form of leukemia could be used to treat Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In late 2015, investigators found that small doses of nilotinib appeared to help individuals with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, according to NPR. The preliminary study sparked excitement among the research community because there are currently no treatments available for these diseases. However, some scientists are cautious because the trial was small, lacked a placebo control, and was not designed to assess efficacy. As a result, investigators are launching 2 larger and more rigorous trials of nilotinib that are both designed with input from the FDA, reported NPR. One clinical trial will include 75 patients with Parkinson’s disease, while the other will contain 42 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The primary goal of the studies is to determine if the cancer drug is safe in patients with brain disease. But the studies should also provide more evidence on whether the drug truly works.

After the Ebola and Zika virus epidemics caused worldwide panic, health officials have advocated for a special emergency fund that would allow the United States to respond quickly to disease outbreaks. Now, a budget blueprint for Federal Emergency Response Funds has been proposed to address public health outbreaks. However, it provides no specifics about how large it would be or where the funds will come from, according to The Washington Post.