‘Game-Changer’ Alzheimer’s Treatment Discovered
NEW YORK, United States, Friday September 2, 2016 – An experimental Alzheimer’s drug may have brought researchers one step closer to preventing the disease altogether.
The new drug targets, then destroys and removes amyloid plaques, toxic proteins that clump together and build up in the brain. Most aging brains have these buildups, but not nearly at the level linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company Biogen developed the drug, aducanumab, and funded the study. The results were published Wednesday in Nature.
Though researchers remain “cautiously optimistic” due to the small trial size, neurologist and study co-author Stephen Salloway told the magazine: “This is the best news we’ve had in 25 years of doing Alzheimer’s research.”
One hundred sixty-five people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s participated in the study, and were given a monthly intravenous dose of either aducanumab or a placebo. Over the course of a year, 103 patients received varying doses of the drug. PET scans revealed that those who received the highest dose showed the largest degree of reduction. Scans of the 40 placebo patients were largely unchanged.
“We are pretty certain of the fact that the antibody reduces the amyloid plaques and in some ways gets rid of the majority of it,” Alfred Sandrock, senior author of the paper, told Time.
Researchers said patients also exhibited slower rates of cognitive decline.
The drug does have some side effects, including brain swelling. But Salloway, who’s a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Brown University, told Time that regular brain scans could monitor swelling and prompt treatment when necessary.
“Compared to other studies published in the past, the effect size of this drug is unprecedented,” Roger Nitsch, one of the paper’s researchers and a professor at Zurich University, told The Independent.
If the results are confirmed, experts say aducanumab could be a major “game-changer” in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Larger trials are planned through 2020. (New York Post)