Science

Alzheimer's Prevention: Fear Not, Scientists Have Discovered A Drug That Could Prevent The Memory Disease

By Jiran , Sep 02, 2016 04:59 AM EDT

Experts are hailing a major advancement in the field of studying and finding a prevention and cure for Alzheimer's disease. A new experimental drug has been created to lessen the disease's symptoms, slowing cognitive decline and possibly even preventing the disease.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is an irreparable and progressive brain illness that gradually destroys memory, cognition, and the ability to do the simplest activities. Alzheimer's symptoms in most people usually emerge in the mid-60s. Approximations may differ, but specialists suggest that more than 5 million Americans might have this disease.

Pharmaceutical houses have put billions of dollars into drugs intended for the prevention of the disease, but a long list of unsuccessful clinical experiments and trials has led many to question if a cure for the illness could ever be found. Now, recently published results from a thoroughly observed clinical test are being hailed as a big success in the field of Alzheimer's treatment.

An Experimental Treatment - Hope for Alzheimer's Patients? 

The trial data suggests that an anti-β amyloid antibody medicine called Aducanumab prevents cognitive weakening in people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but an early test of the antibody's safety is still too indefinite to draw out concrete conclusions, leading many people to caution against the treatment's potential.

Almost all the information from the new findings published today in Nature have been openly announced earlier at conferences, but this is the first time the results have been printed in a peer-reviewed paper.

"The presentation of the findings offerd a coherent, comprehensive, carefully vetted presentation of the data. This is the first time that a β amyloid-lowering drug is associated with a potential clinical benefit." neurologist Stephen Salloway of Brown University, who is one of the study investigators, said.

The year-long clinical trial involved 165 participants with mild cognitive impairment or dementia from Alzheimer's taking different dosages of Aducanumab once a month. After 54 weeks, positron emission tomography brain scans discovered that those who had received the higher dosage experienced a significant reduction in β amyloid.

Such results signified a major breakthrough, according to Robert Vassar, a neuroscientist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

"This is a remarkable therapeutic achievement and a tremendous advance for the field," the neuroscientist stated. 

Possible Side Effects 

On the other hand, 40 patients dropped out from the trial midway because of side effects they suffered such as small hemorrhages and swelling of the brain. These side effects were seen in those people who took higher doses and has been a tenacious conundrum for those who are trying to target β amyloid using immunotherapies (a β amyloid vaccine trial many years ago was halted because it triggered dangerous brain inflammation)

All in all, Alzheimer's investigators, even the authors of thepaper themselves, are urging risk avoidance on the new drug results. The study was "wholly underpowered" to conclude whether cognition was truly better in people who took aducanumab, or just a statistical accident. 18-month-long phase III trials are already in motion to determine whether the memory aids hold up in larger groups where the point at which other promising Alzheimer's medications have failed.

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