The search for effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease is ongoing, but overall, hasn’t been productive. Many companies, like pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, have halted their research efforts since they are costly and have not produced any medications that can treat or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s dementia. Recently, Biogen and Eisai Co Ltd. announced that their experimental drug BAN2401 had shown promising results in clinical trials. Initially, BAN2401 did not do that well in earlier tests, but the latest results show that at higher doses, the drug was able to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s in some patients.
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia marked by tangles of beta-amyloid plaques that form on the brain. These proteins interfere with neurotransmitters that send signals around the brain. Memory loss, cognitive decline and eventually death follow. By the time the plaques are visible on imaging studies like PET scans, the disease is usually too far advanced for treatment to be effective. The recent news about a possible therapy that could slow down the slide into the “Long Goodbye” that Alzheimer’s is known for is a harbinger of hope for patients and their families.