According to drugmakers Eisai and Biogen, a Phase 3 clinical study on a potential new Alzheimer’s disease drug shows promise.
The study findings show that the drug, lecanemab, reduced clinical decline of people with Alzheimer’s disease by 27% compared with a placebo after 18 months of treatment.
“This is very good news for Alzheimer’s disease patients and their families,” says Dr. Ronald Petersen, a neurologist and director of Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. “While this is not a cure for the disease, it represents a step in the right direction by slowing cognitive decline.”
A monoclonal antibody, lecanemab shows promise in removing amyloid plaques from the brain.
Plaques are one of the defining features of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Petersen adds: “These data suggest that we can intervene on the amyloid process and slow it down. Now, we need to move earlier in the disease process to treat people who are amyloid positive but clinically normal.”
The study included 1,795 participants with early Alzheimer’s disease in Japan, the U.S., Europe and China.
The drugmaker has requested accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The study results will be presented at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Congress in November and is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
“We look forward to additional data from this study and other studies investigating disease-modifying therapies that will attack the underlying disease process itself,” says Dr. Petersen.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder affecting about 6 million people in the U.S and over 55 million people worldwide.
This number is projected to rise to 139 million globally by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.
Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease can lead to growing trouble with:
¦ Thinking and reasoning.
¦ Making judgments and decisions.
¦ Planning and performing familiar tasks.
¦ Changes in personality and behavior .
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Medication may temporarily improve or slow progression of symptoms.
On average, people with Alzheimer’s live between three to 11 years after diagnosis, though some may survive for more than 20 years.
Dr. Petersen says you can’t prevent dementia, but you can reduce some of your dementia risks.
In fact, there are a dozen risk factors that are modifiable.
“Some of these are cardiovascular issues, like blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes and education,” says Dr. Petersen. “Sleep is an important factor, as well as social isolation and the development of depression.”
Heavy alcohol use, hearing loss and air pollution also may be risk factors.
“If one were to attack one or more of these, you may actually be able to reduce your risk of developing cognitive impairment as you age.”
Dr. Petersen says stay active — physically, socially and intellectually.
Go to lectures.
See family and friends.
And get your hearing checked.
“Most importantly is sleep hygiene. Many people have difficulty with sleeping as they age for a variety of reasons,” says Dr. Petersen. ¦
In the KNOW
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away and die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily function.
Early signs of the disease may be forgetting recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will develop severe memory impairment and lose the ability to carry out everyday tasks.
There are no proven Alzheimer’s prevention strategies, but population-based studies suggest that factors associated with overall good health also may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. These factors include regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet and keeping your brain active through lifelong learning.
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