A drug aimed at slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease has shown promise in a phase III study, according to the researchers who conducted the trial.
Results from the study showed that the drug — lecanemab — led to less cognitive decline in some patients with early symptoms of the disease.
The slowing of the loss of cognitive ability was modest, but researchers say they are encouraged by the results.
“The benefit is real; so too are the risks,” Dr. Jason Karlawish, a co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Memory Center, who was not involved in the research, told The New York Times.
While the study of lecanemab, made by Eisai and Biogen, showed promising results in slowing cognitive decline in those with Alzheimer’s, it also carried risks of brain swelling and brain bleeding, according to the report.
Two patients in the trial died during treatment, but the study’s researchers said the two had other factors that could have contributed to their deaths.
The study’s authors said the drug needed to be studied further.
A report of the results of the trial was published Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. According to the report, lecanemab “resulted in moderately less decline on measures of cognition and function,” compared with patients receiving a placebo during the 18-month study.
According to the results, the study included nearly 1,800 patients with mild symptoms. It was funded by the companies that developed the drug and the report was co-written by scientists at Eisai.
Lecanemab is given intravenously twice a month. It is a monoclonal antibody that targets amyloid, the drug’s makers said. Amyloid is a protein that clumps into plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
News of the drug comes after the Food and Drug Administration’s decision last year to approve Aduhelm, another Alzheimer’s drug. Patients in a trial of Aduhelm, which is also made by Biogen, also had brain bleeding issues. The price for the drug is $28,000 a year and Medicare announced it would limit what it would pay for the drug.
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