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A new experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that causes considerable damage to cognitive function, limiting memory and judgement ability. It is a disease that currently has no cure, and while several drugs have been introduced to treat it in the past, all have failed. Most recently, the FDA rejected Biogen’s aducanumab, a drug which was ultimately deemed ineffective at treating the condition. Fortunately, there are new contenders: other experimental drugs that might be able to treat Alzheimer’s disease and better slow its progression. This is crucial for the millions of Americans who already have Alzheimer’s, especially since this number is expected to rise in the coming years. This affects not only the patients, but also the countless families affected by this disease, many of whom serve as their caretakers.


One of the potential drugs currently undergoing clinical trials is doanemab, a modified antibody which targets the protein plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The concept behind the drug is actually quite similar to aducanumab in that both are modified antibodies and both remove the same protein plaques from the brain. In a study done with about 250 participants over 76 weeks, results indicated that the use of doanemab reduced cognitive decline. The participants were evaluated using the Integrated Alzheimer’s Disease Rating Scale (iADRS), which is used to measure the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Participants who had received doanemab demonstrated a smaller reduction in iADRS score, indicating that they showed less cognitive decline. However, another test known as the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR-SB) did not reflect the same results. Like the iADRS test, the CDR-SB showed that doanemab led to reduced cognitive decline. However, the results from the CDR-SB test were not significant enough to reflect the iADRS results. Still, the drug successfully showed decreased plaques in the brain. As for safety, the drug was deemed safe and did not cause significant side effects.


Overall, it is difficult to determine how good this drug will be to treat Alzheimer’s. In the study, while some results indicated success, others were too weak to determine how effective the drug will be. This drug has potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, though it is too early to tell; it will require more studies, larger participant pools, and longer trials to truly determine if doanemab can help treat Alzheimer's.


https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2100708