Ground breaking Alzheimer’s drug marks ‘turning point’ in dementia fight

Jul 18, 2023
A new drug called donanemab has been discovered, which slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Source: Getty

There’s new hope on the horizon for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as a revolutionary new drug has just emerged as a potential game changer in the battle against this heartbreaking condition.

Experts are hailing the groundbreaking discovery of donanemab, by Eli Lilly, as a “turning point” in the field after a successful clinical trial found that the drug could slow Alzheimer’s progression.

In the global trial, which involved 1,700 Alzheimer’s patients aged between 60 and 85, scientists found that those in the early stages of the disease who took donanemab had a 35 per cent lower risk of having their condition progress and up to 22 per cent for those who were already in the later stages of the disease.

Donanemab is a monoclonal antibody that has been specifically developed to target and eliminate amyloid plaque in the brain, which is believed to contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Eli Lilly‘s findings, on average, after 18 months of treatment, the amyloid plaque decreased by 84 per cent among participants who received donanemab. While participants who were given a placebo experienced only a minimal 1 per cent decrease in amyloid plaque.

These results indicate that Alzheimer’s may soon become just as manageable as conditions like diabetes or asthma.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Susan Kohlhaas, the executive director of research and partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK, is urging regulators to act fast to regulate donanemab to prevent patients from getting frustrated over not having immediate access to the drug.

“We now have two potentially life-changing Alzheimer’s treatments on the horizon and we need to see rapid regulatory decisions so people who could benefit from these treatments aren’t left in limbo,” Kohlhaas said.

“After 20 years without new Alzheimer’s medicines, people affected by this disease deserve to have answers about new treatments as quickly as possible.”

Alzheimer’s disease affects up to 1 in 10 Australians over the age of 65, with the numbers going up to 3 in 10 for older adults over 85 years. While age is a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, it should not be mistaken for a normal part of growing older.

Progressive cognitive decline, the main sign of Alzheimer’s disease, is caused by the death of cells in the brain. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but lifestyle interventions such as exercise and a healthy diet have been spoken of by researchers in recent times as worthy improvers of circumstance.

It is understood that Eli Lilly is already waiting to get the green light from England’s healthcare watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, to see if donanemab could be used in the NHS.

There is currently no news as to if or when the drug will be approved in Australia.


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