Early trial results for Alzheimer's treatment drug show 'a lot of potential', researcher claims

Written on 03/15/2021

By Ciarán Mather

Although the drug Donanemab is only in its early stages, some scientists already believe it could be a gamechanger in treating the notorious illness that is Alzheimer's disease.

The study included 257 patients with early symptomatic Alzheimer's disease, 131 of which received Donanemab, an intravenous drug manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company, while 126 received a placebo. 

Researchers found Donanemab slowed the decline of cognition and daily function in Alzheimer's patients by 32 per cent after 76 weeks, compared to those who received a placebo.

Although not involved in the study, Maria Carrillo, the chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association, told CNN that the Phase 2 trial results may be early, but are nonetheless 'promising'.

She explained: 'This has a lot of potential; it could be a first step towards slowing more significantly, or stopping, cognitive decline in these earlier stages, which would really be transformational for our field.'

In addition, researchers also looked at the drug's impact on the build-up of amyloid beta plaque and tau proteins, which are considered trademarks of Alzheimer's disease.

After one year, almost 60 per cent of participants had reached amyloid-negative status, meaning their levels were at those of otherwise healthy people. 

Then, at 76 weeks, amyloid plaque levels, which were measured in centiloids, decreased by 85 centiloids; more than in those who received the placebo.

It was also noted that patients who reached these low levels of amyloid beta plaque were taken off of the drug and given the placebo.

The results of the study have since been published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In related medical news, scientists with the Australian National University (ANU) recently discovered a fascinating, naturally-occurring protein that could pave the way for improved allergy treatments and certain autoimmune conditions in the future.