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Alzheimer’s drug lekanemab slows cognitive decline in the fight against dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a general term for loss of memory, speech, and other mental abilities.

Brian B. Betancourt | Toronto Star | Getty Images

The trial of an experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease has been hailed as a “new era” in the long-running fight to find a cure for dementia.

Results from clinical trials have shown that the drug lecanemab removes clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a general term for loss of memory, speech, and other thinking abilities that are so severe that they interfere with daily life.

The findings have been hailed as a major breakthrough in researchers’ years-long efforts to combat the debilitating disease.

However, the authors of the report cautioned that the drug is most effective in people with an earlier stage of the disease, and further trials are needed to determine its long-term effects.

“Lecanemab reduced amyloid markers in early Alzheimer’s disease and resulted in moderately smaller declines in cognitive performance and function,” the researchers write in a study published in New England Journal of Medicine.

“Longer-term trials are needed to determine the efficacy and safety of lekanemab in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease,” the report said.

“Big Step Forward”

The study was conducted among 1795 volunteers with early stage Alzheimer’s disease for 18 months.

Half were given lecanemab, an antibody that causes the immune system to clear amyloid, every two weeks, while the other half were given a placebo.

The results showed that the decline in memory and intelligence slowed down by 27% in patients who took lecanemab.

These exciting results represent an important step forward in dementia research and could usher in a new era for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Susan Koolhaas

Director of Research, Alzheimer’s Research UK

Importantly, the drug removed enough amyloid protein that the patients did not have enough signs of Alzheimer’s disease to qualify for the trial.

Alzheimer’s Research UK described the result as “a big step forward” in reducing cognitive decline in patients.

“These exciting results represent an important step forward in dementia research and could usher in a new era for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Susan Koolhaas, director of research, said.

However, she warned that the drug’s adverse side effects prove it’s not a miracle cure.

“Lecanemab has been associated with serious side effects and it will be important for regulators to understand the drug’s safety profile before it is granted a full license to use it,” she added.

Risk of serious side effects

The results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. They follow the release earlier in the fall of first-class results from drug manufacturers Eisai and Biogen.

Stock Eisai fell over 6% Tuesday and Nutrient about 3.7%after report that a 65-year-old woman bled to death after being enrolled in the lekanemab study.

It is not clear if the death was directly related to drugs. The woman was given an additional drug, known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), to clear blood clots that had formed as a result of the bleeding.

Eisai said in a statement on Monday that all available safety information indicates that lecanemab therapy is not associated with an increased risk of death overall, and added that it could not provide any patient-specific information “to protect patient privacy.” .

However, he notes second death announcement from the court. In June, an 80-year-old man who participated in the trial and was also taking a blood thinner, died.

US health regulators are currently evaluating the results of clinical trials and will soon decide whether lekanemab can be approved for wider use.

Eisai and Biogen plan to start the approval process in other countries next year.


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