Promising development or risk. Could a new drug be the beginning of the end for Alzheimer's?
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The results of the third phase of research give hope, but some of the scientists are still skeptical.
The disease was first described by the German doctor Alois Alzheimer back in 1906, when he described it as characterized by severe memory loss and changes in brain structure. A lot of time has passed since then, the psychiatrist's manuscripts were rediscovered only in 1995, writes I News.
For more than three decades, scientists have been puzzling over finding out what causes the development of Alzheimer's disease and trying to find a cure. It seems that today they are closer than ever to answering this question. We are talking about the drug lekanemab, which is considered a breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and on which scientists are placing big bets.
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Note that the main characteristics of Alzheimer's disease are:
- memory loss;
- confused mind;
- change of personality;;
- loss of independence.
Studies of the new drug suggest that lecanemab can reverse the brain changes caused by Alzheimer's disease, as well as slow down the decline in the mental abilities of patients. For the first time in history, scientists have come so close to a cure for Alzheimer's disease, so it is not surprising that the news was greeted with enthusiastic enthusiasm.
The results of the third phase of the study were published at the end of November and presented at a conference in San Francisco. A total of 1,800 people with mild to moderate disease took part in the study. The results of the third phase indicate that the drug is able to almost three times (by 27%) slow down the decline in cognitive functions, but, alas, is not able to reverse them. Brain scans of study participants also showed that this antibody treatment was effective in removing plaques in the brain associated with the disease.
According to Professor John Hardy, head of the British Dementia Research Institute at University College London, the results of this study are an important step in the victory over the disease and may well be the beginning of the end of Alzheimer's disease.
Hardy also notes that this study should be considered as confirmation of the amyloid hypothesis theory – large accumulations of the beta-amyloid protein in the brain lead to the death of nerve cells and brain damage. However, the scientist admits that this theory is not without contradictions.
At the same time, not all the scientific community positively evaluates the results of the third phase of the study. For example, according to UCL senior psychiatry professor Rob Howard, the news is indeed encouraging, but the evidence for the claimed benefits is “extremely thin.” From a technical standpoint, he said, lekanemab gave patients a 1.4-point advantage on the ADAS-cog14 scale, a special scale that measures memory, attention and language skills, which consists of 90 points.
In addition, according to Howard, another concern is the fact that the study has known two cases of death from strokes, which some researchers attribute to side effects. In addition, there are known abnormalities found on brain scans in 20% of study participants that indicated swelling or bleeding.
It's too early to talk about any breakthrough, according to George Perry, a professor and neuroscientist at the University of Texas at San Antonia. Firstly, because two patients have died, secondly, the reported benefits are not much better than previous drugs, and thirdly, this study is still based on the unproven theory that the disease is due to amyloid.