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.
How Does the Drug Work?
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.
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.
Why 99% of Alzheimer’s Drugs Fail
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.