Researchers were left stunned after an experimental drug meant to combat Alzheimer's has proven to slow the mental deterioration of patients battling the disease in its earliest stages by 27%. Alzheimer's affects more than 5 million people in the United States, so these findings are a bright light of hope for those affected by this disease. Here's what to know.
For starters, Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. It is a progressive disease where the build-up of abnormal proteins eventually makes nerve cells die out. When the brain cells die, they lose the ability to do the function they once provided, so people lose their memory, ability to think and reason, and mobility. Since it is a progressive disease, patients can live anywhere from 5 to 7 years after diagnosis up to about 10 to 15 years. It isn't easy to see a loved one suffer, so the news from this trial is phenomenal.
The experimental drug, called Lecanemab, is being developed by a Tokyo-based firm, Eisai, in partnership with a US pharmaceutical company, Biogen. 1,800 patients participated in the trial. Upon injection, Lecanemab is meant to combat the build-up of toxic plaques in the brain. Half of the participants were given a placebo, and the other half of the patients were given 10mg/kg of the drug on a bi-weekly status. The researchers tested the patients with memory, judgment, and problem-solving skills. The results from these tests showed that those who received the injections of Lecanemab showed a decline of 27% less than those who were given the placebo. The researchers did note side effects, like brain swelling and micro-hemorrhages. While it is far from a cure for the disease, the findings are remarkable. The drug has only been tested on those in the earliest stages of the disease, so it will not be able to help those already deep into their diagnosis - but it still serves as a significant step in the right direction.
The drug still has a long way to go before it is available to the public. It must receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and regulators in Japan, the UK, and Europe. Hopefully, this drug will serve as a beacon of light to those with family members and friends affected by Alzheimer's, while more research will continue to be done on how to cure this terrible disease. Stay tuned.