Alzheimer’s research continues. The Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisaitogether with the United States biogen, announced this fall that the drug Lecanemab would appear to work. A glimmer of hope after countless unsuccessful attempts at curing this terrible disease, even if not everyone shares the optimism.
In an 18-month study involving nearly 1,800 people in early stages of the disease, patients given the drug experienced a delay in worsening conditions about five months. Additionally, the same patients had a 31% reduced chance of progressing to the next stage during the study.
The drug therefore appears to have a good success in slow the effects of Alzheimer’sbut scientists disagree about how much this might change for patients and their families.
According to some experts such as Dr. Madhav Thambisetty, “the small difference obtained in this trial is unlikely to have a relevant effect for patients.”
However, tests are important because they have shown that a drug is capable of attack a protein called amyloid – considered one of the responsible for Alzheimer’s – can help slow clinical progression. “We all understand that this is not a cure and we are trying very hard to understand what it means to slow down Alzheimer’s, as this is the first time this has happened.” said Maria Carrillo, chief scientist for theAlzheimer’s Association.
More worrying are the potentials side effects. Drugs that target amyloids can cause swelling and bleeding in the brain. Swelling of this type was observed in 13% of patients given lecanemab. Eisai said most were asymptomatic or with moderate symptoms.
The agency FDA (Food and Drug Administration, which recently approved the world’s most expensive drug) is considering approval of Lecanemab, and a decision is expected in January. If approved, it would be the second anti-amyloid drug on the market.