New drug may cure pa­tients in early stages of Alzheimer’s

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Anew kind of drug to fight Alzheimer’s has shown prom­ise when given to peo­ple in the early stages of the dis­ease, a drug maker has said.

Known as solanezumab, the drug is a mon­o­clonal an­ti­body that helps the brain clear amy­loid- beta be­fore it clumps to­gether to form plaques that are im­pli­cated in Alzheimer’s, which af­fects 44 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia world­wide, and has no ef­fec­tive treat­ment. In 2012, solanezumab was shown to be no bet­ter than a sugar pill in clin­i­cal tri­als.

An ed­i­to­rial in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine in 2014 said that as many as one quar­ter of pa­tients stud­ied in the early tri­als may have had de­men­tia but not Alzheimer’s, and that sci­en­tific tri­als should con­tinue in peo­ple with con­firmed Alzheimer’s.

This time, re­searchers re­ported on ran­dom­ized, dou­ble blind tri­als in­volv­ing 1,322 peo­ple with mild Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Some were given the drug right away, oth­ers af­ter a pe­riod of two years.

Both doc­tors and pa­tients were un­aware of whether they were us­ing a sugar pill or the ac­tual drug.

When re­searchers com­pared the cog­ni­tive func­tion of the two groups two years into the study, the dif­fer­ence was “sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant”, drug- maker Eli Lilly said in a state­ment.

The study is pub­lished in the jour­nal Alzheimer’s and De­men­tia: Trans­la­tional Re­search and Clin­i­cal In­ter­ven­tions, and was dis­cussed at the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion An­nual

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