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New drug could slow memory loss

10 October 2012

New drug could slow memory loss

Combined results from two trials have found that a new drug, solanezumab, could slow the speed of memory loss by up to a third.  Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical firm, has announced the results of the drug which helps to clear protein ‘plaques’ which have been linked to Alzheimer’s.

Results showed that it slowed the pace of cognitive decline by 34% compared to those taking a placebo.

Rachelle Doody, professor of neurology at Baylor College of Medicine, said, “These results represent an important step for the medical, academic, and scientific communities in understanding brain amyloid as a target of Alzheimer’s disease therapies.”

Dr Mike Hutton, Eli Lilly’s chief scientific officer for neurodegeneration, said: “This is so exciting because the amyloid hypothesis has been around for 20 years, and I think this is the first evidence that targeting the amyloid cascade can slow the progression of disease.  There are lots of drugs in the pipeline that tackle this, being developed by Eli Lilly and other companies.”

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, “We knew when the results of this trial were first announced that the drug did seem to showed positive trends for some patients.  The fact that the benefits appear to be for those people with mild forms of Alzheimer’s suggests that solanezumab may only have an effect when given early in the disease process. The drug aims to stop a protein called amyloid from building in the brain, but we know this can start to happen years before symptoms develop.  Studies of anti-amyloid drugs like solanezumab in people with pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s are being planned, and the results from these trials could be very interesting.”