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.
During testing, Lecanemab was found to slow the decline in memory and thinking by up to 27% over 18 months, compared to a placebo.
The UK’s Alzheimer’s Research Foundation called the discovery “a historic moment in dementia”. study”, with the drug becoming the first later-stage trial of an Alzheimer’s drug “in a generation” to successfully slow cognitive decline.
Phase three clinical trial results have been reported by Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, which is working 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 trial with 1,795 participants with early-stage Alzheimer’s, with a reduction in cognitive decline evident after 6 months of the study.
The company said it plans to discuss the results with health regulators to apply for market 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 to not only remove the accumulation of a protein called amyloid in the brain, but also have an effect. small but statistically significant effect on cognitive decline in people with early-stage disease.
“If the drug is approved, it’s important that it gets into the hands of people who can benefit from it as quickly as possible.”
Other experts are equally excited by this breakthrough. Dr Richard Oakley, associate director of research at the Alzheimer’s Association, calls the treatment a potentially “game changer”.
Rob Howard, professor of geriatric psychiatry at University College London, simply added: “God knows what, we’ve been waiting for this long enough.”
A report in 2019 found that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect around 900,000 people in the UK. The treatment and care of patients costs the country around £34.7 billion a year.