Home care giver comforting elderly patient

Experts urge regulators to prioritise new Alzheimer's drug after landmark breakthrough

Promising preliminary results from a clinical trial exploring the efficacy of the Alzheimer’s drug known as donanemab have now been confirmed in what could be a revolutionary change in treatment for patients.

The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference saw that the drug was able to delay deterioration by 35% for those in the early stage of the disease and displayed low or medium levels of a protein called tau. Patients with high quantities of tau however had no benefit.

The success of the phase 3 trial was “another milestone” in the battle against dementia according to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s executive research and partnerships director, Dr Susan Kohlhaas.

The study also identified some side effects of the treatment, with almost one in four (24%) of the 1,800 people taking part in the trial reporting adverse effects such as brain swelling and infusion-related reactions. A total of four deaths were linked to the drug during the trial.

For the trial, people were either given donanemab or a placebo treatment over an 18-month period. Researchers found that those who received the drug could perform day-to-day tasks like shopping, housekeeping, taking medicine and managing finances.

Alzheimer's Research UK has written to the drug’s manufacturer urging them to submit the treatment for regulatory review in the UK.

Although this should be a priority, regulators will need to appropriately balance the risks and benefits of the treatment before it can be fully licensed, according to Dr Kohlhaas.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is also calling for the powers that be to collaborate to ensure those in need of the treatment can access it on the NHS as soon as possible.

The full study results were published in JAMA.

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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