Alzheimer's researchers have almost gotten used to having their hopes dashed when a promising drug fails to live up to its potential in clinical trials. But now a new therapy is injecting fresh optimism into the field, and the results are prompting scientists to say it's the best news they've seen for treating this deadly disease in 25 years.
The drug, developed and tested by biotech firm Biogen, is called aducanumab. In its clinical trial, the drug helped to erase beta amyloid, a sticky plaque that builds up in the brain and can lead to the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The results of phase one of the study were reported in the journal Nature last month and included 165 patients with early stage Alzheimer's. Patients with this level of the disease typically have trouble remembering conversations, using things around the house or concentrating, but can otherwise function on their own. The truly devastating part of Alzheimer's is that these symptoms almost always continue to worsen.