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First Drug That Appears to Slow Alzheimer’s

After 120 failed clinical trials, a new drug in US slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by ONE-THIRD

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Health News
3 min read
Will an Eli Lilly  drug, Solanezumab become the first marketed treatment to slow the decline of memory  in mild Alzheimer’s patients? (Photo: iStock)

Have scientists in America achieved a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment? Dementia experts are cautiously optimistic that a new drug could slow the progression of dementia by one-third.

The study was done on 1000 patients of mild dementia for three years. Currently this is the only hope of ending the frustration of three decades of failed research. Yet it is no where close to being on the market.

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How Does the Drug Work?

If this drug works in the long run it will be incredible news for the 47 million people living with Alzheimer’s (Photo: iStock)
If this drug works in the long run it will be incredible news for the 47 million people living with Alzheimer’s (Photo: iStock)

Solanezumab, the promising drug by pharma giant, Eli Lilly, works by attacking the protein formation in the brain.

Back in 2012, this drug disappointed patients, researchers and investors when it failed at clinical trials. But scientists kept studying it, trying to see if it made a difference to patients who were in very early stages of the disease.

When they looked at the combined memory and thinking test scores of all the volunteers three years later, those who got the drug early were still in the mild stages of Alzheimer’s while those on placebo had slipped further in the twilight zone.

The results are exciting because they strongly indicate the drug is acting on the disease itself, rather than only relieving symptoms. And it was tried on people, not rats.

Solanezumab is going into another trial very soon and if the same results are replicated, it will be a real breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research.

The drug showed no side effects. The only complaint of the patients on trial – it is an injectable.

Silver Lining

By slowing the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s, patients will get more time in the mild phases where people’s functioning is not normal, but it’s relatively good (Photo: iStock)
By slowing the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s, patients will get more time in the mild phases where people’s functioning is not normal, but it’s relatively good (Photo: iStock)

At the moment there is no medication that can slow down dementia. If such a drug hit the shelves it could transform how the disease is managed.

Clinically what this drug has achieved is significant. People would still get worse, but they would spend more time in the milder phase rather than the stage where they forget their grandchildren.

It may be too early to jump and proclaim a breakthrough but since 1998, US has conduced120 clinical trials; all of which have failed. This drug promises hope in a field which has only been plagued by disappointment.

Next year, when the second trial results are due, we will know for certain whether Solanezumab is the breakthrough everyone hopes it could be.

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Why 99% of Alzheimer’s Drugs Fail

Only one successful Alzheimer’s drug has been developed in the past decade, leaving many scientists concerned about the lack of new therapies (Photo: iStock)
Only one successful Alzheimer’s drug has been developed in the past decade, leaving many scientists concerned about the lack of new therapies (Photo: iStock)

In any dementia; small, circular lumps of protein develop inside the brain cells. It is not known what causes them or how they damage the brain.

Finding targeted drugs to treat dementia or Alzheimer’s is especially difficult because the brain is relatively inaccessible and harder to test and deliver compounds to.

Alzheimer’s is a ticking bomb costing the global economy £350 billion and yet progress with research is achingly slow. World over, 198 compounds are being studied. It has taken big money and big time to reach where we are.

Also Read:

Alzheimer’s Disease: Can We Treat It 20 Years Before It Strikes?

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