And the companies Esai and Biogen said, on Tuesday, that their experimental drug, “lekanamab”, slowed the cognitive and functional decline of Alzheimer’s patients, in a trial that included about 1,800 patients in the early stages of the disease, in what may be considered a rare success, in an area where there are many drugs that have not yielded results. .
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that leads to brain atrophy and death of its cells. It is the most common cause of dementia. It leads to a persistent decrease in the ability to think, and in behavioral and social skills; This limits a person’s ability to live independently.
Over the course of 20 years of attempts and failures in the research field, only one drug has been registered in the face of Alzheimer’s disease, “adcanimab”, announced in June 2021, and if registered, the new drug “lekanamab” will be the second of its kind, approved by the Food and Drug Administration. American.
But how effective is the new experimental drug against Alzheimer’s disease? What is the proposed treatment plan? Is it really worth drowning patients and their families in rosy dreams? Or is the road still long and bumpy to reach an effective treatment?
Christian Steen Frederiksen, director of the Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Copenhagen, was cautiously optimistic about the new drug, telling Sky News Arabia: “I think there is reason to be optimistic on behalf of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”
He adds that the results published – so far – show a convincing effect of “lekanamab”, given all the measures considered in the trial, including the assessment of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and with further scrutiny of the data in the future, we are talking about game-changing results.
But Frederiksen believes that the time is still too early, it is difficult to predict the impact of current results on treatment programs in the future, as the results are still very limited, and there is a need to know the opinion of the regulatory authorities on them, and he continues: “There is no doubt that a fundamental change will occur in the field of Alzheimer’s treatment. If the new drug is approved.
Complex treatment plan
The Director of the Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Copenhagen told Sky News Arabia that it is necessary to bear in mind that providing this drug to patients will never be easy, as the treatment is given by intravenous injection, once every two weeks.
He continues: “Patients need to undergo a rigorous diagnostic process and repeat MRI, so a path for diagnosis and care must be designed to fit these requirements,” noting that this path may be offered in countries with advanced and technologically advanced health care systems, which prevents many of patients benefit from the drug, especially in poor countries.
The race to halt the development of Alzheimer’s disease comes amid expectations that the number of Americans living with the disease will double to 13 million in 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, while the Alzheimer’s Disease International said the number of patients worldwide could reach 139 million by 2050.
The biggest puzzle
In an exclusive interview with “Sky News Arabia”, Ronald Petersen, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, said that this drug is not a cure for the disease, but it may change the course of the disease and slow its progression.
According to the announced data, the drug stops the progression of the disease by 27 percent, as it works to remove the accumulation of plates and layers of a type of protein in the brain called “amyloid beta”, which is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
Contrary to what scientists have believed for many years, Petersen says that amyloid beta is not the only component that causes Alzheimer’s, as the disease is very complex, and includes other causes such as proteins: tau, alpha-synuclein, and TDP-43, as well as vascular disease, fluid dynamics Cerebrospinal.
“Amyloid beta proteins are just one piece of the bigger puzzle, and they may be very important in some people as a common cause of disease, but eventually we will need combination therapies to attack the multiple components behind Alzheimer’s,” he says.
Petersen’s explanation of the multiple causes of Alzheimer’s disease explains why most drugs developed during the previous decades to combat Alzheimer’s have failed; It was aimed at preventing the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques only, without considering other pathogens.
Limited class and hope for the future
Jeff Cummings, director of the Chambers Grande Center for Transformational Neuroscience at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in the United States, told Sky News Arabia that the drug “lekanamab” will treat a relatively limited group of Alzheimer’s patients, limited to those who suffer from mild cognitive impairment; Where memory and thinking will be preserved for an additional time before the disease progresses.
Cummings points out that the side effects of the experimental drug appeared in about 20 percent of patients, including brain swelling in about 3 percent of the participants, and they often occur in the early stages of treatment, but the side effects are quickly controlled in the end.
In the conclusion of his speech to “Sky News Arabia”, Cummings expects to see, during the next three decades, tremendous progress in the control and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases that affect the elderly; As treatments will become more convenient, feasible and effective, blood tests help in early detection and intervention before patients develop symptoms.
It is noteworthy that the results of clinical trials on the new drug are derived from preliminary data only, but the companies Esai and Biogen say that they plan to publish them in a peer-reviewed journal, and they will seek to submit the data for approval by the US regulatory authorities by the end of next March.
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