Medical researchers, along with pharmaceutical companies, are in the works of producing drugs and treatments to slow down Alzheimer’s disease. Studies about the neurological disorder have helped to understand its origins and how it affects brain function. However, medical experts are continuously searching for the drug that could cause a decline in the progress of Alzheimer’s. Recently, a successful drug trial has sparked hope of decreasing the neurological disorder cases.
Through the years, pharmaceutical scientists have developed and tested various drug treatments for Alzheimer’s. Most of these have failed, but on Tuesday, September 27, an experimental drug passed Phase 3 of the trial. It’s a rare medical breakthrough. The experimental drug was reported to have the capability to halt the decline of cognitive functions in the first stages of the disease.
Eisai Co Ltd and Biogen are the companies behind the creation of the experimental drug — which they named lecanemab. They tested the medication on over 1,800 patients, all in the early stages of the neurological condition. During the trial, patients took lecanemab twice a week. Eventually, data were collected and showed surprising results. The effects of Alzheimer’s on the patient’s cognitive function had declined by 27%. For the first time, a drug was able to reach a percentage that made an impact on the progress of the medical condition.
“This is a historic moment for dementia research, as this is the first phase 3 trial of an Alzheimer’s drug in a generation to successfully slow cognitive decline,” said Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, the director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK. “Many people feel Alzheimer’s is an inevitable part of aging. This spells it out: if you intervene early, you can make an impact on how people progress.”
Medical experts have been studying the effects of sticky plaques in a dementia patient’s brain. This is called the “amyloid hypothesis” and is believed to be a massive contributor to brain cell damage and altering cognitive skills. The positive result from lecanemab has supported the hypothesis, primarily when the previously developed drugs decreased amyloid in the brain but did not lead to any progress.
After the incredible breakthrough, Eisai and Biogen are set to apply for regulatory drug approval from the FDA. They will be waiting for support in the US and Europe at the end of the year. Although lecanemab has already passed trials, many questions about it are yet to be answered. One inquiry is about the drug’s effect after 18 months.
“The accepted minimum worthwhile difference ranges from 0.5 to 1.0 points, [meaning] that there are going to be some very difficult conversations and decisions in the next weeks and months,” Rob Howard, a professor of old age psychiatry at University College London, said.
Furthermore, with its possible approval, healthcare providers must decide if they are open to funding the drug due to its required intake. They also need to determine who is qualified to acquire the drug. Extended research and trials will be conducted by Eisai, and they will test people with a high risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The result of the upcoming research will investigate the effects of lecanemab and determine if it also works for people who haven’t shown neurological disorder symptoms.