‘Historical moment’ in Alzheimer’s treatment as an investigational drug that slows cognitive decline | Science and technology news


A new drug found to reduce cognitive decline in early-stage Alzheimer’s has been hailed as a “historic moment” in the treatment of the disease.

Studies found that lecanemab slowed the decline in people’s memory and thinking by up to 27% over 18 months compared to a placebo.

Alzheimer’s Research UK called the discovery a “historic moment for dementia”. Research,” with the drug becoming the first subsequent study of an Alzheimer’s drug “in a generation” to successfully slow cognitive decline.

The results of the phase 3 clinical trial were reported by Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, which was collaborating with US company Biogen to develop lecanemab.

The drug works by clearing deposits of amyloid, a protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients in the early stages of the disease.

Eisai reported results from a study of 1,795 participants with early Alzheimer’s disease that showed a reduction in cognitive decline six months after the start of the study.

The company said it plans to discuss the findings with medical regulators in order to seek marketing approval before the end of March.

dr Susan Kohlhaas, Research Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This is the first drug that has been shown not only to remove the buildup of a protein called amyloid in the brain, but also to have a small but statistically significant impact on cognitive decline in people with early-stage disease.

“If the drug is approved, it’s important that it gets to the people who can benefit from it as quickly as possible.”

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Other experts were also enthusiastic about the breakthrough. dr Richard Oakley, associate research director of the Alzheimer’s Society, called the treatment potentially “game changing”.

Rob Howard, Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry at University College London, added simply: “God knows we’ve waited long enough for this.”

A 2019 report found that around 900,000 people in the UK were affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Treating and caring for patients costs the country about £34.7 billion a year.

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