New Alzheimer’s Drug on the Horizon
The anticipated release of results from a worldwide human trial for a new Alzheimer’s drug has generated a lot of excitement in the neurologist community this week.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia which affects more than 600,000 Canadians, and yet after decades of research there have been no advancements in treatment to slow the progression of the disease until now.
Lecanemab is a monoclonal antibody that targets the protein, amyloid, which characteristically accumulates around and between the neurons of the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. While other drugs have succeeded in blocking the production amyloid protein, they failed to slow the associated cognitive decline. However, in a press release earlier this Fall, lecanemab was described to slow the advance of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease by four-to-five months over 18 months and demonstrated a 27 per cent improvement in cognitive tests compared to placebo. The full results of this phase III clinical trial are expected to be released at the Alzheimer’s research conference in San Francisco this week.
While some may be skeptical and wonder if it is worth pursuing a treatment that offers what seems like minimal improvement, it is important to remember Alzheimer’s disease is extremely complex and there are still many unknowns. Therefore, to find an effective treatment for this devastating disease will likely require a combination of treatments, working through multiple mechanisms of action. While there is still a long way to go in determining that ideal combination, lecanemab offers a step in the right direction.
Written by Amber Hutchinson, PhD, MSc