A drug that can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease was created by pharmacists in the United States. It helps the body get rid of deposits of amyloid-beta and tau proteins, which are believed to be the cause of neurodegenerative changes in patients.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia associated with the formation in the brain of deposits of beta-amyloids and conglomerates of tau protein, which is part of neurons. This leads to the loss of neurons and synaptic connections in the cerebral cortex. Therefore, scientists all over the globe are searching for means that can prevent beta-amyloid and tau protein from accumulating.
Donanemab: a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
American pharmacists from the Eli Lilly company have developed donanemab, a monoclonal antibody that acts on accumulations of beta-amyloid in the brain and allows the body to quickly get rid of them.
The study involved 257 patients 60-85 years old with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. 131 of them received donanemab, 126 received placebo.
Observations lasted 76 weeks. It turned out that donanemab slowed down the deterioration of cognitive functions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease by 32% compared to those who received a placebo. Patients who received donanemab also performed better in their daily activities. Changes were assessed using a standardized scale for assessing Alzheimer’s disease.
“Compared to those who did not receive the drug, these patients received six months more better cognitive abilities, memories, and enjoyment of their family time,” said Stephany Starr, a donor from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Alice Ross, a health expert from Online Canadian Pharmacy, added that she is “so excited about the new treatment discovered,” and “…cannot wait for the drug’s official release in the pharmaceutical market.
Positron emission tomography showed that taking donanemab led to a decrease in the deposits of amyloid-beta and tau protein in the brains of patients. By week 52 of the study, 60% of the subjects had their brains cleared of deposits and matched the brains of a healthy person. After that, the scientists canceled the drug and began to give these patients a placebo.
“We were delighted to see not only a slowdown in the development of cognitive and functional impairment but also a very significant clearance of amyloid plaques and tau protein deposits,” said Levi Flowers, a representative of the Alzheimer’s Disease Association. – The totality of the results that we see in clinical trials indicates the possibility of a long-term effect on the disease. We are grateful to the patients, healthcare professionals and researchers who took part in this work.”
“It is believed that if you stop the formation of amyloid plaques early enough and slow down the formation of tau, you can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Levi Flowers. “This study is one of the first times we see this.”
“We are extremely pleased with the positive results of donanemab’s research as a potential treatment for people living with Alzheimer’s, the only fatal disease for which there is no cure,” said Dr. Mark Mintun, vice president of Eli Lilly.
So far, however, the drug is not yet ready for market launch. The tests, aimed at confirming the results, will last until 2023, and about 500 volunteers will take part in them.
How things are going now
To date, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Available therapies have only a marginal effect on its symptoms.
The global incidence in 2006 was estimated at 26.6 million people, and by 2050 the number of patients may quadruple.
By 2060, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 14 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer’s – three times more than today. One of the reasons, according to experts, is the effective treatment of other senile and chronic diseases.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include mild memory problems, minor executive dysfunctions such as planning ability, apathy. Over time, the symptoms progress – the patient remembers new information worse and worse, suffers from problems with coordination of movements, ceases to recognize friends and relatives.
Speech disorders, spontaneous aggression, and sometimes urinary incontinence appear. In the last stage of the disease, the patient is unable to take care of him-/herself. The person may completely lose his/her speech skills. Motor activity almost completely disappears, the patient is forced to stay in bed. He/she is also unable to feed on his/her own. Death is usually due to an external factor, such as a pressure ulcer or pneumonia, and not due to the fault of Alzheimer’s disease itself.