Against Alzheimer’s, a new drug shows promising results

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images/Image Source

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images/Image Source

Lecanemab was developed by the Japanese pharmaceutical group Eisai and the American Biogen.

HEALTH – Soon an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease? Published this Wednesday, November 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the detailed results of a clinical study conducted on nearly 1,800 people, followed for 18 months, confirmed the effectiveness of a new drug. Lecanemab, developed by the Japanese pharmaceutical group Eisai and the American Biogen, would reduce the cognitive decline of patients by 27%.

This ratio “statistically significant” according to the two groups had already been announced at the end of September. But the complete study also specifies the incidence rates of side effects of lecanemab, which are sometimes serious and more frequent than in the group of patients on placebo.

Thus 17.3% of patients treated with lecanemab suffered from cerebral haemorrhages, against 9% in the placebo group. And 12.6% of people who received this experimental drug suffered from cerebral edema, compared to just 1.7% in the placebo group.

But the overall mortality rate is almost the same in the two groups of patients in the study: 0.7% in people treated with lecanemab, 0.8% for those on placebo.

“A treatment option”

“This is the first drug that delivers a real treatment option for people with Alzheimer’s”welcomed Bart De Strooper, director of the British Institute for Dementia Research, according to AFP.

“Although the clinical benefits appear somewhat limited, they can be expected to become more apparent if the drug is administered over a longer period of time”estimated this professor.

In Alzheimer’s disease, two key proteins – tau and another called amyloid beta – gradually accumulate abnormally in the brain, causing brain cell death and brain shrinkage. This causes, among other things, memory loss and a growing inability to perform daily tasks.

Lecanemab targets amyloid beta protein deposits but only at the early stages of Alzheimer’s, which could limit its use because this disease is often diagnosed late.

Considered one of the main public health problems, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 40 million people worldwide.

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