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
  • Annie graduated from University College London and began traveling the world. She is currently a writer with keen interests in genetics, psychology and neuroscience; her current focus on the interplay between these fields to understand how to create meaningful interactions and environments.
You May Also Like
DEC 22, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 22, 2019
Effective Therapeutic Approved for Migraines
The U.S Food and Drug Administration has now approved a new medication for migraines. The drug is called ‘ubrogepant (Ubrelvy)’ and comes in th...
DEC 30, 2019
Neuroscience
DEC 30, 2019
Mentally Stimulating Activities Prevent Old Age Cognitive Decline
Engaging in two or more mentally stimulating activities- including reading books, using a computer and engaging in social activities- has been linked to a ...
JAN 06, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 06, 2020
Online Therapy Treats Depression in Heart Disease Patients
People suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD) often suffer from depression too- something that can lead to a vicious cycle in which CVD can be negativ...
JAN 25, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
JAN 25, 2020
Taking Psychedelics Improves Mood, says Yale Researchers
Psychedelics have long been known for their potential to enable deep reflection and modulate people’s moods. But evidence for this mostly came from a...
FEB 06, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
FEB 06, 2020
Taking a Closer Look at a Disease-Linked Protein
Misfolded proteins are closely linked to many neurodegenerative disorders. Researchers have learned more about one of those pathogenic proteins....
MAR 22, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAR 22, 2020
Capturing Images of Firing Neurons
Our bodies run on electricity. Neurons send rapidly fired electrical signals through the brain and limbs constantly, enabling us to think and move....
Loading Comments...