Antibody therapies that clear amyloid plaques from the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease may be the first to slow cognitive decline, according to new research.
The findings, taken from industry studies of three alternative antibody therapies, were presented today (Wednesday, 22 July) at the Alzheimer's Association International conference in Washington.
Interim results from a safety study of aducanumab (Biogen Inc) in people with very early stage Alzheimer's disease show that the drug reduces the amount of the amyloid plaques in the brain, with an increasing effect as the dose increases. Although the study is only designed to test safety, a dose-dependent reduction in cognitive impairment was observed. Over a quarter of people on the higher doses experienced headaches and a third to a half experienced abnormalities on a brain scan.
Long term analysis of solanezumab (Ely Lilly) in the EXTENSION EXT study reports that people with mild Alzheimer's disease who have taken the drug for 3.5 years show some benefits in cognition compared to those who have only taken it for 2 years.
Results from the Scarlet RoAd trial of ganterenerumab (Roche) in people at very early stages of Alzheimer's disease report that the drug was able to reduce amyloid in the brain and suggests that a higher dose may be required to see any clinical effect. The trial was terminated earlier this year as it was unlikely to find any significant effect on cognition.
Dr Doug Brown, Alzheimer's Society's Director of Research and Development said:
'Today's findings strongly suggest that targeting people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease with these antibody treatments is the best way to slow or stop Alzheimer's disease. These drugs are able to reduce the sticky plaques of amyloid that build up in the brain, and now we have seen the first hints that doing this early enough may slow disease progression.
'After a decade of no new therapies for dementia, today's news is an exciting step forward. We will have to wait for the ongoing trials to finish to know the full risks and benefits of these drugs. If they are positive, these drugs will be the first identified to directly interfere with the disease process and slow the progression of Alzheimer's.'
'Today's data is consistent with the drug potentially modifying the disease process in the brains of people with very early stage Alzheimer's disease, which brings us closer to a treatment that could slow cognitive decline. However, this drug is not without side effects, causing headaches in over a quarter of people which might be unacceptable to some. We look forward to seeing whether this truly is an effective treatment when the current trial ends in a few years.'
'It's good news that some people have been receiving the antibody for over three years and it appears to be having beneficial effects. The current trial has finished recruiting participants, so in just 18 months we may get an exciting first look at the final results.'