New drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease may be on the horizon

    Testing on a new Alzheimer’s drug has many people feeling hopeful about future treatments for the disease.

    The drug, developed by the company Biogen, has produced remarkable results in early clinical trials. It successfully slowed cognitive decline in patients with mild forms of Alzheimer’s by removing the toxic plaques that destroy brain cells.

    The drug he drug was developed from the antibodies of people who are resistant to Alzheimer’s, said  Dr. Carol Lippa who runs the Memory and Cognitive Disorders Program at Drexel’s College of Medicine.

    “What the antibody does is it clears it up. It’s kind of like a second garbage pickup, if you will,” said Lippa, who was not part of the Biogen trials. “So this amyloid in someone who would get Alzheimer’s disease is just sitting in the brain and there’s something wrong and the body doesn’t clear it out. “

    The Phase 1 trial was only done on patients in the very early stages of the disease. But Claire Day, senior vice president for the Delaware Valley chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said the results are promising.  

    “One of the things that’s encouraging about this trial was the improvement in cognition or the true flow of cognitive decline, which we haven’t seen in some time,” she said.

    Other drugs that were successful in small early trials eventually failed in larger studies, but many researchers have hope for this new antibody drug. At high doses, the drug slowed cognitive decline by as much as 70 percent; in some cases, it produced harmful side effects.

    If successful, the drug may also be used to prevent Alzheimer’s from developing in those at high risk for the disease.

    Biogen is currently recruiting patients for its larger Phase 3 trial.

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