After a second drug has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in less than a year, we may be entering a new era of treatments.
We were now “on the cusp” of having drugs available, according to experts, which had previously appeared “impossible.”
Donanemab, a drug manufactured by Eli Lilly, is said to slow Alzheimer’s disease by about a third.
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Donanemab works similarly as lecanemab, which made titles all over the planet when easing back the disease was the demonstrated.
Both are antibodies, similar to those produced by the body to combat viruses. However, these are designed to eliminate beta amyloid, a sticky buildup in the brain.
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the formation of distinctive plaques by the accumulation of amyloid in the spaces between brain cells.
According to Dr. Cath Mummery, the clinical lead for the cognitive-disorders clinic at the UK’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, “The decades-long battle to find treatments that change Alzheimer’s disease is changing.”
“We are now entering the time of disease modification, when we might realistically hope to treat and maintain someone with Alzheimer’s disease with long-term disease management rather than palliative and supportive care,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The key findings from Eli Lilly’s trial have been made public, though the full details have not yet been published:
Donanemab was given to 1,734 people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease as a monthly injection until the distinctive plaques in the brain were gone. The pace of the disease was slowed by about 29% overall, and by 35% in a group of patients that researchers thought were more likely to respond. Those who were given the drug also retained more of their day-to-day lives, such as being able to discuss current events, drive, or pursue hobbies. However, brain swelling was a
Despite being detected on brain scans, the majority of cases were mild or asymptomatic. However, 1.6 percent developed dangerous brain swelling, which led to the deaths of two volunteers and the death of a third volunteer.
Dr. Mark Mintun, vice-president of neuroscience research and development for Eli Lilly, stated, “We are encouraged by the potential clinical benefits that donanemab may provide, although like many effective treatments for debilitating and fatal diseases, there are associated risks that may be serious and life-threatening.”
In the coming months, the company said, it would begin the process of getting its drug approved for use in hospitals.
There are “significant side effects” and a lack of long-term data, according to University of Bristol researcher Dr. Liz Coulthard, but the drug may “help people live well with Alzheimer’s for longer.”
“Thought impossible” Two drugs that target amyloid in the brain to slow the disease have also convinced scientists that, after decades of misery and failure, they are on the right track.
Prof. John Hardy of the UK Dementia Research Institute, whose work 30 years ago led to the idea of targeting amyloid, stated, “This should dispel any lingering doubts about this approach.” It’s great for competition to have two drugs.”
According to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Dr. Susan Kolhaas: A first generation of Alzheimer’s disease treatments is on the horizon, something that many people only a decade ago considered impossible.
However, these medications only appear to be effective in the early stages of the disease, prior to the brain becoming too damaged.
Furthermore, in the event that they are endorsed in the UK, it would in any case take an upset in how the illness is analyzed to have an effect.
Brain scans or spinal fluid analyses are only performed on 1-2% of people to determine whether they actually have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia against which drugs are ineffective.
Additionally, the NHS would need to determine whether or not it could afford them. Lecanemab is more than £21,000 per year for each individual.