OCT 28, 2019 8:20 AM PDT

First Drug to Slow Progression of Alzheimer's Shows Promise

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

An estimated 5.8 million people living in the US have Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, no cure is available and any drugs have only been able to treat its symptoms. Now however, in a surprising take, drug company Biogen has announced that their drug, Aducanumab, previously declared failure in March 2019, may be able to slow down the disease’s progression. 

Designed to target amyloid-beta plaques, a build-up of toxic proteins commonly thought to cause the neurodegeneration seen in Alzheimer’s, an earlier independent analysis of the drug found it to be ineffective in tackling the condition’s progression. It turns out however that the datasets analyzed by this study only comprised of data points until December 2018, whereas the trials continued until March 2019. 

Thus, upon analyzing the datasets made until March, in which patients received higher doses of the drug, the researchers noted significantly slower rates of cognitive and functional decline when compared to a control group. 

Al Sandrock, the head of research and development at Biogen said, “I have to pinch myself because I almost don’t believe it yet...In retrospect, the results of the futility analysis was incorrect. That’s because it was from a smaller dataset that looked at patients with less exposure to high dose aducanumab (Herper: 2019).”

Bart De Strooper, from the UK Dementia Research Institute said, “It is encouraging for the field that the tremendous work delivered to target amyloid beta appears to be validated in this trial and we should now redouble our efforts to tackle this central problem in Alzheimer’s Disease, alongside other important contributors (Hariday: 2019).”

Despite this optimism however, some are yet to be convinced. Nikolaos Robakis for example, a skeptic of the amyloid hypothesis and neuroscientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City said, “Why [Biogen] came back now and said they would pursue what before they themselves they tried to discard – it seems, to me, strange.” 

This comes alongside his proposal that rather than being causes of neurodegeneration, beta-amyloid plaques are consequences of an underlying vulnerability to stress in the brain (Wadman: 2019). 

Although Biogen has yet to release comprehensive data about its two Phase 3 trials, it claims that the decision to continue Aducanumab’s development come from direct consultations with the FDA. Currently, they plan on filing an application for its approval in early 2020. 


 

Sources 

 

Hariday, Rich: New Atlas 

Herper, Matthew: Stat News 

Wadman, Meredith et al.: Science

 

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
OCT 21, 2020
Neuroscience
New Theory Says Consciousness Arises from Electromagnetic Energy
OCT 21, 2020
New Theory Says Consciousness Arises from Electromagnetic Energy
Professor Johnjoe McFadden, a researcher from the Univerity of Surrey in the UK, has proposed a new theory for conscious ...
OCT 07, 2020
Neuroscience
Biocompatible Gel Restores Sciatic Nerve Function in Rats
OCT 07, 2020
Biocompatible Gel Restores Sciatic Nerve Function in Rats
Video: Explains poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), a hydrogel biopolymer that is a similar concept to the new hydrogel built ...
NOV 01, 2020
Neuroscience
Depression Increases Risk of Having a Stroke
NOV 01, 2020
Depression Increases Risk of Having a Stroke
Researchers in Alabama have found that people who suffer from multiple depressive symptoms are at an increased risk of h ...
NOV 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
NOV 15, 2020
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
For some time now, researchers have been aware that children and adults with autism tend to have different sensory syste ...
NOV 24, 2020
Neuroscience
Computer Mouse Movements Predict Risk-Taking Behavior
NOV 24, 2020
Computer Mouse Movements Predict Risk-Taking Behavior
Researchers from Ohio State University have found a way to measure people’s appetite for risk-taking behavior from ...
NOV 29, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Gene Therapy for Eye Disorder May Have Other Applications
NOV 29, 2020
Gene Therapy for Eye Disorder May Have Other Applications
In recent years, scientists have been able to develop gene therapies to treat some eye diseases. The eyes are uniquely q ...
Loading Comments...