Scientists have celebrated a “historic moment” for research into Alzheimer’s disease after identifying a drug capable of reducing memory loss and destroying key proteins linked to the disease.
Their study of 1,800 patients found that twice-weekly injections of lecanemab could reduce disease progression by 27 percent.
The drug is the first treatment to both slow cognitive decline and reduce plaques associated with the disease.
The changes were evident as early as six months after participants started taking it, the researchers said, while cautioning that it doesn’t cure the disease. The drug also slowed the decline in patients’ functional thinking.
Eisai, a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company that makes the drug, has partnered with Biogen, a US biotech company, to develop it and is expected to file for US approval later this year before it’s early applied for approval in Europe next year.
The drug is designed to target and eliminate amyloid, one of the proteins that builds up early in the development of the disease.
Eisai’s study was the largest yet to test a long-debated theory that eliminating the protein might slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
The company said the results of the research were “highly statistically significant” as they showed those taking the drug had lower levels of amyloid compared to those taking the placebo.
Alzheimer’s charities said the study results were the first in a generation to show a significant impact on cognitive decline.
dr Susan Kohlhaas, Research Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This is a historic moment for dementia research as this is the first Phase 3 trial in a generation of an Alzheimer’s drug that successfully slows cognitive decline. Lecanemab slows the progression of memory and thinking problems in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s, representing a major breakthrough in dementia research.”
She said the top-line results “offer renewed hope for people affected by this cruel and devastating disease.”
dr Richard Oakley, associate director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the study could be “groundbreaking”.
“I believe that research will cure dementia and this is an important milestone on that journey,” he added.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/historic-alzheimers-breakthrough-as-new-drug-significantly-slows-memory-decline-in-sufferers-42025137.html “Historical” Alzheimer’s breakthrough as a new drug significantly slows down memory loss in those affected