The first drug that slows the destruction of the brain by Alzheimer's disease is discovered
Lecanemab is the first drug that scientists say has been confirmed to slow the destruction of the brain from Alzheimer's disease.
The discovery, after decades of unsuccessful research, marks a new era of drugs to treat Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia.
The drug, according to the study, works in the early stages of the disease. Lecanemab attacks harmful proteins that build up in the brain of a person who has Alzheimer's.
One of the leading researchers in the world, Prof. John Hardy, said that this discovery was historic and that the development of Alzheimer's therapies will now begin. Prof Tara Spiers Jones, from the University of Edinburgh, also said the results were impressive. "We've had a 100% failure rate for a long time," she said.
Currently, people with Alzheimer's are given other drugs to help manage their symptoms, but none alter the course of the disease.
Lecanemab is an antibody, like those the body makes to attack viruses or bacteria, that helps the immune system clear amyloid from the brain.
Amyloid is a protein that accumulates in the spaces between neurons in the brain and forms the plaques that are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's.
The large-scale trial involved 1,795 volunteers with early-stage Alzheimer's.
The results, presented at the Alzheimer's Clinical Trials Conference in San Francisco and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that the disease continued to rob people of brain power, but that decline slowed by about a quarter over 18 months of treatment.
The data is already being evaluated by regulators in the US, who will soon decide whether lecanemab can be approved for wider use. The developers, pharmaceutical companies Eisai and Biogen, plan to start the approval process in other countries next year.