One of the most distressing aspects of Alzheimer’s disease is that there is no cure – current treatments focus only on alleviating symptoms. But a new drug is showing promise as an effective treatment that slows down the disease’s debilitating effects on the mind and body.
Results of a pair of clinical trials released today show that people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease who received a high dose of the drug crenezumab experienced a slowdown in the decline of their cognitive abilities compared to patients receiving placebos.
The slowdown trends occurred in both trials and on all cognitive measures, but no effect was seen on measures of function. The study’s researchers say an increasing drug-placebo difference on cognitive measures suggest a disease-modifying effect.
Jeffrey Cummings, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, presented results of the studies at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference today in Copenhagen.
“We did see significant effects of the agent on patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Cummings says. “In every Alzheimer’s trial, we learn new information about the disease. These findings represent a new path to explore for future research and clinical trials.”
Attacking the cause of AD
Crenezumab is a monoclonal antibody that attacks amyloid protein – the cause of Alzheimer’s disease – and helps to remove amyloid protein from the brain.
The results of these studies could have major implications for Alzheimer’s disease patients, researchers and those at risk for developing the disease.
Biological changes start early
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, fatal disease of the brain that gradually destroys memory and thinking skills and impairs basic daily functions.
Researchers believe that the biological changes of Alzheimer’s disease begin many years before clinical symptoms become evident.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, people may have difficulty remembering things, but show no signs of dementia. However, in the later stages of the disease people often are unable to communicate and increasingly rely on others for simple day-to-day tasks.
For people age 65 and older, the disease typically progresses for four to eight years after diagnosis and eventually leads to death.
Dementia affects 44 million people worldwide with 7.7 million new cases each year, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form.