New drug may reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 35% | Science and technology news
A second drug has shown the ability to slow the progression of the leading form of dementia.
Results from a study published in a preliminary form by drugmaker Eli Lilly show that their drug, donanemab, reduced the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients by 27% to 35% in one study.
Those who took the drug were also better able to maintain normal daily activities than those who didn’t.
“This result confirms that we are now entering the treatment age of Alzheimer disease,” said Dr Cath Mummery, clinical director of the Cognitive Disorders Clinic at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.
six months ago Pharmaceutical company Esai announced its drug called lecanemab showed similar effectiveness in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s.
The drugs that are potentially game-changers for Alzheimer’s have their downsides.
Two and possibly a third patient in the 1,700 participants in the donanemab study died of brain swelling after receiving the drug.
Similar events, including bleeding in the brain, were observed in the study of lecanemab, although it was difficult to establish a direct link to the drug itself.
Both drugs are synthetic antibodies that mimic those made by our immune system and are engineered to target amyloid, a “sticky” junk protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
The drugs showed the ability to completely eliminate the accumulation of amyloid and this is believed to be the reason for their effectiveness.
But the impact, at least for the duration of these trials, is modest. No drug has yet been shown to stop, let alone reverse, the effects of Alzheimer’s.
But they show that after years of failure, Alzheimer’s research is on the right track.
“We are now on the cusp of first-generation treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, something many thought impossible just a decade ago,” said Dr. Susan Kolhaas from Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Another big challenge is the cost.
Bruce Willis’ family have been praised for raising awareness of dementia after being diagnosed
Insights into near-death experiences uncovered by scientific research on dying brains
Antibody drugs are very expensive to produce – in the US, lecanemab treatment costs around $26,500 (£21,000) a year.
They also require monthly IV drips and regular brain scanner exams.
“This news underscores the urgency of preparing the NHS to make these treatments available should regulators find them safe and effective,” Kolhaas said.
Lecanemab was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in January. A decision in Europe is expected in 2024.
Regulatory authorities will make a decision on this donanemab once full study data is released later this year.