Drug May Slow Memory Decline in Alzheimer's

Health Professional

There is cautious optimism that a new drug could slow the progress of brain decline in people with Alzheimer’s. Could a drug called Solanezumab be the breakthrough that we have hoped for such a long time in the fight against Alzheimer’s?

This month the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilli presented their new findings to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held inWashingtonD.C., on their drug Solanezumab. Scientists took another look at their findings from the 18 month trial that was previously thought to be a failure.

They found that by just looking at those with early stage symptoms and omitting people with moderate stage Alzheimer’s their drug showed a significant effect. Of the 1,300 patients with mild dementia who had been placed on the drug a near 30% slower decline in memory and cognitive tests was identified against those who had taken a placebo during the original 18-month trial.

These are preliminary findings and the Eli Lilly will report on Solanezumab again next year. It is hoped that this drug will be the first medication in many years to offer real hope to people with Alzheimer’s. Up to now many drugs developed but none have resulted in the significant breakthrough needed.

Solanezumab is an antibody that works on the plaques that build up in the brain. It attacks these deformed proteins, called amyloid, that have always been thought to be a central cause of Alzheimer’s. They build up between nerve cells in the brain and cause damage and eventually brain cell death. The drug slowly causes the plaques to disintegrate.

Until now the drugs meant to have targeted plaques have not appeared to have that effect leading some to question whether some other biological process in Alzheimer’s was the real root of the disease.

The next report on their findings will be interesting. A 30% effect on the pathology and leading to patient’s improvement is helpful. But what will also be hugely important is that it opens a new and significant inroad into the development of new drugs that will, hopefully, make a major improvement in the fight against this awful disease.

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