New Alzheimer’s Drugs Could Spell ‘Beginning of the End ‘ for Disease 


One drug donanemab, which is taken as a monthly infusion for 18 months, was found to slow mental decline by 36% in phase 3 trials, US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly announced in May.

By Samuel Osborne, News reporter @samuelosborne93


A promising new Alzheimer’s drug could help spell “the beginning of the end” for the neurodegenerative disease.

US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly will announce the full clinical trial results for its Alzheimer’s drug donanemab at a conference in Amsterdam today.

The drug, which is taken as a monthly infusion into the bloodstream for 18 months, was found to slow mental decline by 36% in phase 3 trials, the company announced in May.

It works by targeting and removing clusters of the protein amyloid in the brain.




The NHS is nowhere near ready to provide the first effective Alzheimer’s drugs to the huge numbers of people who need them.

Estimates by Alzheimer’s Research UK suggest 575,000 people in the UK would meet the treatment criteria used in the clinical trials of lecanemab and donanemab.

These drugs work best when given at the very first stages of Alzheimer’s, or earlier still when patients have what doctors call mild cognitive impairment.

But that needs a diagnosis the NHS just can’t deliver at the scale needed.


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“After 20 years with no new Alzheimer’s disease drugs in the UK, we now have two potential new drugs in 12 just months,” Dr Richard Oakley, associate director at the Alzheimer’s Society, wrote in The Mirror.


“This could be the beginning of the end for Alzheimer’s disease.”

It comes after trials showed another drug called lecanemab slowed progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms by 27% in patients in the early stages of the disease. The drug was approved for use in the US earlier this month.

Donanemab found to slow Alzheimer’s and hailed a ‘turning point in fight against disease’


** HOLD FOR RELEASE/PUBLICATION DATE TBD FOR MEDICAL WRITER MARILYNN MARCHIONE STORY ** Dr. William Burke goes over PET brain scan Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 at Banner Alzheimers Institute in Phoenix. It may be too late to stop Alzheimer's in people who already have some mental decline but Banner is conducting two studies that target the very earliest brain changes while memory and thinking skills are still intact in hope of preventing the disease. (AP Photo/Matt York).

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MRI Brain Scan of head and skull with hand pointing


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After the results of the donanemab trial are released, experts around the world will study the findings to examine the benefits of the drug and whether they outweigh the risk of side effects.


Such risk factors could include brain swelling and bleeding.


Regulators in the UK would need to assess the drug to decide whether to licence it as safe – a process that could take between 12 and 18 months – then the NHS would decide which patients it can be prescribed to based on cost-effectiveness.

Estimates suggest the drugs could help 720,000 people, according to the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, including 286,000 with mild Alzheimer’s and 435,000 with mild cognitive impairment, which is a precursor to the disease.




Is UK ready for new Alzheimer’s drugs?


However, doctors previously warned thousands of patients in the UK may miss out on the benefits if such drugs become available due to a lack of brain scanners and specialist clinics.

Amyloid plaques can be detected by taking a sample of spinal fluid or by a PET scan, of which there are around 86 scanners in the UK.

Around 850,000 people in Britain have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

It causes mild memory loss and can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out ordinary daily activities.

Source: SkyNews

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