New Drug May Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease

A study of 856 patients with a mild, early form of Alzheimer’s disease, found that a new drug called BAN2401 may reduce the amount of amyloid plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's (Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, Illinois, July 25, 2018, reported in The New York Times). The drug reduced the amount of Beta-amyloid in sticky plaques that form around nerves in the brain to prevent messages being sent from one nerve to another.

After 18 months on the new drug, 161 patients on the highest dosage of the drug had a 30 percent slower decline in memory than those getting a placebo. Incredibly, brain scans showed that 81 percent of this group were "amyloid negative." However, these huge benefits could be the result of removing people from the group receiving the highest doses. After the patients had been on the drug for a few months, a regulatory agency noted that some of the people on the drug had increasing brain swelling, so the people who were at highest risk for Alzheimer's (those with the APOE4 gene) were removed from the study group getting the highest doses. The apparent successful results of the drug could therefore be due to removing the most susceptible members of the high-dose group and not just from the benefits of the drug itself. Furthermore, scientists have not proven that Beta-amyloid plaques cause the brain damage characteristic of Alzheimer's disease; the plaques may be the result of the brain damage and not the cause. I will watch for further studies on this drug. Meanwhile, see my updated report on Preventing Dementia

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