There has been a breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. said Wednesday that its experimental Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, has yielded positive results in a new trial and could potentially slow the progression of the disease in patients.
In a news release, the company said that people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease who participated in the 18-month trial showed a 35% reduction in the decline in thinking skills when they took donanemab compared to those who took donanemab. they received a placebo.
The drug, which is in its Phase 3 study, is designed to target and remove a sticky protein called beta-amyloid that accumulates in brain-clogging plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, according to the Associated Press.
“Over the past 20 years, Lilly scientists have broken new ground in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by elucidating the basic mechanisms of AD pathology and discovering imaging tools and blood biomarkers to track pathology,” said Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific and medical officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories in the news release.
“We are very pleased that donanemab has obtained positive clinical results with compelling statistical significance for people with Alzheimer’s disease in this trial,” he continued.
“This is the first Phase 3 trial of any investigational Alzheimer’s drug to reduce clinical and functional decline by 35 percent.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It causes memory loss and affects one’s cognitive abilities, typically progressing in a slow decline.
It affects the part of your brain that controls “thinking, memory and language,” according to the CDC.
It’s still not clear to scientists what causes Alzheimer’s, but this drug could be a good step forward in learning more about the disease.
However, this new drug could be dangerous for some patients: Donanemab’s side effects can include swelling and bleeding in the brain, ultimately leading to the deaths of three participants, Lilly reported. The bleeding was detected on an MRI.
“We are encouraged by the potential clinical benefits that donanemab can provide, although like many effective treatments for debilitating and fatal diseases, there are associated risks that can be serious and life-threatening,” said Mark Mintun, group vice president for Neuroscience Research and Development. at Lilly, and president of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals.
The AP noted that the preliminary results of the study have not been reviewed by outside experts, and that Indianapolis-based Lilly plans to release more details at an international meeting on Alzheimer’s this summer.
The company wrote in its press release that it is working to submit the drug to the Food and Drug Administration and anticipates being able to do so this quarter.
Lilly isn’t the only company hoping to bring a potentially life-saving drug to market.
In January, it was announced that Leqembi, developed by Tokyo-based Eisai, had received accelerated approval from the FDA.
His drug, which is an infusion of monoclonal antibodies that a patient is treated with every two weeks, also works in a similar way to Lilly’s in order to delay the early stages of the disease.