The experimental drug lecanemab is being hailed as a momentous breakthrough as an Alzheimer’s disease treatment according to new Phase 3 trial results. Lecanemab has become one of he first experimental dementia drugs to seem to slow the progression of cognitive decline.
The trial data, published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine comes two months after drugmakers Biogen and Eisai claimed lecanemab was found to reduce cognitive and functional decline by 27% in their Phase 3 trial.
The researchers wrote, “In person with early Alzheimer’s disease, lecanemab reduced brain amyloid levels and was associated with less decline on clinical measures of cognition and function than placebo at 18 months but was associated with adverse events. Longer trials are warranted to determine the efficacy and safety in earl Alzheimer’s disease.
So, when Cleveland Clinic approached John and his wife Ann about an 18-month clinical trial for an experimental drug called lecanemab, for John, they didn’t hesitate.
John, who has been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease said, “Nothing ever is a coincidence or happens by mistake. So, I kind of feel like this is our way of maybe giving back that we never would’ve have been able to before.”
Ann said, “Our faith plays a huge role in this. it’s where it’s always been church, there’s always been God at the center of everything.”
Lacanemab is a monoclonal antibody drug, targeting abnormal clumps of beta-amyloid plaque on the brain. It is a sticky protein contributing to cognitive decline.
All trial participants had early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, Preliminary results show lecanemab slowed cognitive and functional decline by 27%, though numbers don’t tell the whole story.
The Alzheimer’s Association said in a statement Tuesday,” We welcome and are further encouraged by the full Phase 3 data.
“These peer-reviewed, published results show lecanemab will provide patients more time to participate in daily life and live independently.
“it could mean many months more of recognizing their spouse, children, and grandchildren.
“Treatments that deliver tangible benefits to those living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s and early Alzheimer’s dementia are as valuable as treatments that extend the lives of those with other terminal diseases,” the Alzheimer’s Association concluded.
Dr. Babak Tousi, a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic said, “You know, it doesn’t matter how people perform the test, a little bit better or worse, in daily life, how it changes and I think goes back how many days people can remain independent without requiring assistance.”
John and Ann faithfully went to the Clinic for infusions every other week for 18 months, not knowing whether he got the actual drug or a placebo.
But that has changed in the last few months, as John is now in the open label phase in which all participants now receive lecanemab. His disease has not worsened in the last two years and his long-term memory remains intact. For that, John and Ann are grateful.
John is dedicated to tasks which work his cognitive function, including puzzles, reading, music and exercise. He and Ann travel while spending more time together, using laughter and faith to create even more lasting memories.
The BBC called the Alzheimer’s Research UK said the findings were “Momentous.”
One of the world’s leading researchers behind the whole idea of targeting amyloid 30 years ago, Professor John Hardy, said it was “historic” and was optimistic “we’re seeing the beginning of Alzheimer’s therapies.” Professor Tara Spires-Jones, from the University of Edinberg, said the results were “a big deal because we’ve had a 100% failure rate for a long time.”
Currently, people with Alzheimer’s are given other drugs to help manage their symptoms, but none change the course of the disease, unfortunately.
According to NPR, lacanemab is being developed by the Japanese company Eisai along with the U.S. company Biogen.
The apparent success of lecanemab comes after many years of frustration and failure for companies developing drugs designed to clear amyloid from the brain.
So far, only one amyloid drug, Aduhelm, has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
That drug, also developed by Eisai and Biogen, was approved in 2021 despite conflicting evidence about whether it worked, and after an FDA advisory committee voted against approval.
These new drugs, aduhelm and lecanemab give everyone hope of a brighter tomorrow. And don’t forget, “with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.
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