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Experimental Alzheimer's drug slowed cognitive decline in clinical trial

Medicare Alzheimer Brain Scans
Posted at 4:45 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-28 17:54:50-04

(WXYZ) — A stage 3 clinical trial found an experimental Alzheimer's drug slowed the progression of cognitive decline. That’s according to the company Eisai, who said its drug also had a positive effect on participants’ ability to perform everyday tasks.

This is certainly an exciting development. Having said that, this experimental drug, if approved down the road, is not for everyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The drug is called lecanemab. It’s amonoclonal antibody treatment that’s designed to target and get rid of amyloid plaques in the brain. Amyloid plaques are clumps of protein, and they’ve long been a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Now, for the trial, the drug was tested in patients with early-stage Alzheimer's disease. There were nearly 1,800 participants and their progress was tracked over 18 months.

In those who received the drug lecanemab, cognitive decline overall was slowed by 27% compared to participants who only received a placebo or dummy pill. While that number is not as high as hoped, it could potentially give patients extra time to live a fuller life.

As many people know, Alzheimer's is very debilitating. It’s a progressive neurologic disorder that causes brain cells to die. It often starts with mild memory loss and can advance to disorientation, confusion, difficulty speaking, and the inability to recognize loved ones.

21.3% of the participants taking the drug lecanemab experienced cerebral hemorrhages known as amyloid-related imaging abnormalities. The trial found 2.8% of participants taking the drug had swelling in the brain. And 0.7% in the drug group had brain bleeding and iron buildup in tissue.

The company said the incident profile was within expectations. And when the drug is used correctly, side effects are manageable.

As for avoiding Alzheimer’s disease, we still aren’t sure what causes it. But here are some steps to promote good brain health.

  • Get up and exercise. It increases blood flow to both the brain and body.
  • Eat a balanced diet. That means plenty of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein.
  • Take care of your mental health. And be sure to stay socially engaged.
  • Also, maintain a healthy weight. And control risk factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • Lastly, treat hearing loss. And avoid smoking and minimize alcohol consumption.

While it’s great that we may have a new drug to treat Alzheimer's Disease in the future, it has limitations and is not a cure-all for everyone. Best to be a health hero, as I like to say, and make sure your health is a priority in life.