Alzheimer’s Drug is Hailed Amid Safety Concerns
Alzheimer's Disease and dementia can lead to loneliness in old age.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia found in elderly people.

A candidate drug for people with early Alzheimer’s disease slowed cognitive decline by about 27% over 18 months, according to a report on a phase 3 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday.

Lecanemab is a monoclonal antibody that is given as an intravenous infusion every two weeks, and targets a sticky protein, beta-amyloid, that clogs up the neural passageways of the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

A total of 1795 participants were enrolled in the phase 3 trial, with 898 receiving lecanemab and 897 receiving a placebo.

“Lecanemab reduced markers of amyloid in early Alzheimer’s disease and resulted in moderately less decline on measures of cognition and function than placebo at 18 months but was associated with adverse events,” according to the report.

“Longer trials are warranted to determine the efficacy and safety of lecanemab in early Alzheimer’s disease.”

The adverse events reported are “infusion-related reactions in 26.4% of the participants” as well as  “amyloid-related imaging abnormalities with edema or effusions in 12.6%”.

However, there were also some potentially serious side effects, with Science reporting that there have been two deaths possibly associated with the trial.

A 65-year-old woman who was part of the trial died after a brain haemorrhage. She had amyloid deposits surrounding many of her brain’s blood vessels, this “likely contributed to her brain hemorrhage after biweekly infusions of lecanemab inflamed and weakened the blood vessels”, according to Science.

Her death follows a report that an 80-year-old man who was part of the trial died from bleeding on the brain.

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration approved another Alzheimer’s drug also based on monoclonal antibodies called Aduhelm, although it has significant safety risks.

Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide, according to the World. Some 60% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

In May 2017, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025.

Image Credits: Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash.

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