This potential new drug for early Alzheimer's disease "lecanemab" is back in the news today following more data from the extensive drug trials being released to the scientific community.
This is the same drug that was widely reported on in September this year. Lecanemab breaks down the amyloid protein, which clumps up abnormally in Alzheimer's disease. So, if approved, it could be the first available treatment that slows down progression of Alzheimer's.
The process to review all the data and decide if the drug is approved is underway in the US. The company who make lecanemab have said they will start the same process in other countries early next year and the NHS will have it's own decisions to make on cost and effectiveness.
One very important point is that this drug must be given early in the course of disease, for people who have build up of amyloid protein in the brain. At the moment our healthcare services are not setup to detect Alzheimer's at this early stage and deliver these types of drugs.
We're working closely with the NHS in Scotland to setup new brain health services which have a focus on early detection and prevention (find out more here).
The release of this latest data for the lecanemab drug represents an exciting time for Alzheimer's research and hopefully for new treatments that can slow down disease progression. For the latest accurate reaction to the developments visit the Science Media Centre.
Alzheimer Scotland Ambassador Professor Tara Spires-Jones said: “Van Dyke and colleagues report that lecanemab treatment in Early Alzheimer’s disease reduced markers of brain pathology and resulted in “modestly” less cognitive decline than placebo in a large clinical trial. While this is good news from a well-conducted trial, it is important to note that this is not a cure. Both groups in the trial had worsening symptoms, but people taking the drug did not decline as much in their cognitive skills. As the authors point out, there is not an accepted definition of clinically meaningful effects in the cognitive test they used, and it is not clear yet whether the modest reduction in decline will make a big difference to people living with dementia. Longer trials will be needed to be sure that the benefits of this treatment outweigh the risks. As a scientist working on Alzheimer’s disease for many years, it is wonderful news that years of fundamental neuroscience research have resulted in a treatment can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and reverse some of the pathological changes in the brain. This result will boost research and gives hope that the treatments based on ongoing neuroscience research will be even better. ”