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New Alzheimer's Treatment Could Reverse Brain Damage

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerApril 15, 2015

A new drug that promises to slow cognitive decline is having great success in early clinical trials.

Learn more about this drug, the studies that have been done to determine its success, and what will come next for the newest hope in Alzheimer’s treatment.

Alzheimer’s Treatment Exceeding Expectations in Early Trials

A new drug from Biogen Idec, a biotechnology firm, has surpassed expectations in early drug trials by slowing seemingly unstoppable cognitive decline. The drug, known as either BIIB037 or aducanumab, works to slow cognitive decline by reducing the amyloid plaques in the brains of people with dementia. Many researchers believe these plaques and tangles of beta amyloid actually cause the neurodegenerative disease.

The first study completed on the drug involved 166 participants and allowed researchers to evaluate dosage requirements and to evaluate the need for further studies on the drug. Researchers used PET imaging and found that the drug did help to remove amyloid from the brain. Participants who took the placebo had unchanged levels of plaque whereas patients who received the highest dose of the drug had a statistically significant reduction in brain plaque.

In addition to reducing amyloid plaque in the brain, researchers also found that the drug slowed cognitive decline when compared to participants taking the placebo. On one cognition test, researchers found that those who took the highest dose of the drug had a 71% reduction in decline.

Treatment Cautiously Inspires New Hope

The small size of the study leads many to question the reliability of the results, and a larger study will hopefully reveal if aducanumab will succeed where other amyloid attacking drugs have failed.

Biogen would like to recruit at least 1,000 participants for more testing by the end of the year to further understand the effect of the drug on the mind. For now, they are planning on moving forward into a late-stage study.

Another aspect of the drug that concerns some, are the side effects which included headaches and amyloid-related imaging abnormalities (ARIA) which can include swelling around the brain. Developers believe these side effects may be able to be managed, but more data will be needed as they progress in further studies.

Despite the small numbers, some researchers still have big hopes for the new drug treatment. Dr. Al Sandrock, Chief Medical Officer at Biogen, said:

“This is the first time an investigational drug for Alzheimer’s disease has demonstrated a statistically significant reduction on amyloid plaque as well as a statistically significant slowing of clinical impairment in patients with prodromal or mild disease.”

What do you think about the newest drug treatment from Biogen? Are you hopeful this drug may hold the cure for Alzheimer’s? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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