New Alzheimer’s Drug Hailed as Major Breakthrough, Appears to Slow Progression of Disease

The experimental drug lecanemab is being hailed as a major breakthrough as an Alzheimer’s disease treatment, according to new Phase 3 trial results.

Lecanemab has become one of the first experimental dementia drugs to show promising results in slowing the progression of cognitive decline.

The trial data was published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It comes two months after drugmakers Biogen and Eisai claimed that lecanemab was found to reduce cognitive and functional decline by 27% in their Phase 3 trial.

“In persons with early Alzheimer’s disease, lecanemab reduced brain amyloid levels and was associated with less decline on clinical measures of cognition and function than placebo at 18 months but was associated with adverse events,” the researchers wrote.

“Longer trials are warranted to determine the efficacy and safety of lecanemab in early Alzheimer’s disease.”

In a statement Tuesday, the Alzheimer’s Association said that it welcomes and is further encouraged by the full Phase 3 data.

“These peer-reviewed, published results show lecanemab will provide patients more time to participate in daily life and live independently.

“It could mean many months more of recognizing their spouse, children, and grandchildren.

“Treatments that deliver tangible benefits to those living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s and early Alzheimer’s dementia are as valuable as treatments that extend the lives of those with other terminal diseases.”

According to the BBC:

Alzheimer’s Research UK said the findings were “momentous”.

One of the world’s leading researchers behind the whole idea of targeting amyloid 30 years ago, Prof John Hardy, said it was “historic” and was optimistic “we’re seeing the beginning of Alzheimer’s therapies.”

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Prof Tara Spires-Jones, from the University of Edinburgh, said the results were “a big deal because we’ve had a 100% failure rate for a long time.”

Currently, people with Alzheimer’s are given other drugs to help manage their symptoms, but none change the course of the disease.

According to NPR:

Lecanemab is being developed by the Japanese company Eisai along with the U.S. company Biogen.

The apparent success of lecanemab comes after many years of frustration and failure for companies developing drugs designed to clear amyloid from the brain.

So far, only one amyloid drug, Aduhelm, has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

That drug, also developed by Eisai and Biogen, was approved in 2021 despite conflicting evidence about whether it worked, and after an FDA advisory committee voted against approval.

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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