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Alzheimer's Disease News And Updates: Experimental Drug Showed Favorable Results In Human Trial

First Posted: Sep 01, 2016 05:47 AM EDT
Brain Scans of Patients with AD
This image shows a PiB-PET scan of a patient with Alzheimer's disease on the left and an elderly person with normal memory on the right. Klunkwe / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0
(Photo : Klunkwe / Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists are still looking for ways to cure the growing problem of Alzheimer's disease. On Thursday, researchers shared the news that an experimental drug has destroyed and removed plaques in the brains of patients with early-stage Alzheimer's disease. Could this be the much awaited cure for the degenerative disease?

Though most elderly brains have plaques, patients with Alzheimer's brains have the tendency to have more. Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia, still has no cure. However, some treatments are already available to manage the symptoms, to slow the progression and reverse it if still has not spread. 

A report in CNN revealed that the drug is given to patients once a month for 1 year. It was found that infusions of the drug aducanumb eradicated the brain from plaque deposits which experts claim to have a significant role in disorganizing cellular processes and blocking communication among nerve cells. "Overall, this is the best news that we've had in my 25 years doing Alzheimer's clinical research," study coauthor Stephen Salloway of Brown University said August 30 at a news briefing. "It brings new hope for patients and families most affected by the disease."

Biogen, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based drug company developed aducanumab and funded the study which tested the drug's safety in humans. But, the drug was not designed to test for cerebral benefits in patients. Experts still found that some of the patients' conditions who received the drug showed less deterioration than those who are receiving a placebo. Similar to other drug considered for Alzheimer's, aducanumab is an antiobody that aims at amyloid-beta, a sticky protein that usually accumulated in the brains of people with the disease.

According to pix11.com, the study consisted of 165 patients, with an average age of 73 years old, and with early stage Alzheimer's. They were divided into groups and treated with monthly intravenous infusions of either aducanumab or a placebo over a 54 week period. Four groups of patients were given the drug in four separate doses. Using PET brain scans, results showed that those treated with aducanumab had reduced brain plaques on both duration and dose. All groups showed a progressive reduction over time, and the group given the highest does showed the greatest reduction among everybody.

The results are the most credible evidence that an antibody can reduce amyloid in the brain, according to Alzheimer's researcher Rachelle Doody of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who was not involved in the study. However, experts still warn that the results from 165 people is a relatively small number. The seemingly beneficial effects could disappear in larger clinical trials, which are under way. "These new data are tantalizing, but they are not yet definitive," says neuroscientist John Hardy of University College London, reported sciencenews.org.

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