Alzheimer’s disease currently has no known cure. For years, scientists have been searching for new drugs to improve the symptoms. Now, after a series of failures in trials, there’s new hope that the drug BAN2401 could be used to successfully slow the progression of the disease.
Results from the early trials of the drug show that it can help to improve cognition in patients and reduce the clinical signs of Alzheimer’s in their brains. Experts say that they are “cautiously optimistic” with the results of the new trials. They also hope that the positive results will be duplicated in further clinical trials.
The drug is an antibody, which the researchers found could reduce the formation of new beta amyloid clusters in the brain. These early trials were carried out by the American biotechnology company Biogen, alongside Japanese drug manufacturer Eisai.
The companies’ announced last week that the trials show that it can reduce the existing clusters in the brain by up to 70%. The clusters of beta amyloid are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. In addition, it has also shown to provide a 26% – 30% placebo benefit in patients.
The results were announced at a conference during the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. In a press release, Lynn Kramer, the chief clinical and medical officer for Eisai said: “These were people with very mild impairments, some confusion, forgetting someone’s name on occasion. That’s the goal: to stop Alzheimer’s disease when it’s in the mildest presentation.”
The reaction from medical experts has been mixed, but largely positive. Dr. Julie Schneider, a professor of pathology at Rush Medical College commented: “I would not say shock and awe,” said. “It’s encouraging to see some cognitive effect and slowing of disease progression, but I personally think there is a lot more work to be done.”
Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the non-profit Alzheimer’s Association, added that a combination of drugs “is the future, and there won’t be a silver bullet to defeat Alzheimer’s, so being able to delay the progression of the disease for a couple years would be huge.”
Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at New York-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center, said that the results shown in the new research is “impressive on the surface, but we have to be cautiously optimistic. This data may be encouraging, but it’s not possible to say for sure. I don’t want us to be wrong again.”