Dementia drug data set to be revealed

Dementia drug data set to be revealed

  • 22 July 2015
  • From the section Health
Couple with dementia

Eagerly awaited data on the most promising drug in treating Alzheimer’s disease is set to be unveiled later.

Patients and scientists hope it could become the first medication to slow the pace of brain decline.

The decline in Alzheimer’s is unstoppable – drugs can help with symptoms, but nothing prevents the inexorable death of brain cells.

Hints at the drug’s effectiveness will be outlined, but Solanezumab has been the great hope of dementia research.

It targets deformed proteins called amyloid that build up in the brain during Alzheimer’s.

It is thought the formation of sticky plaques of amyloid between nerve cells leads to damage and eventually brain cell death.

Trials of the drug seemingly ended in failure in 2012.

But when the US company Eli Lilly looked more closely at the data, there were hints it could be working for patients in the earliest stages of the disease.

Those people have continued to take the drugs and results on how they have progressed are due to be revealed later at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington.

It is known that these drugs are not stopping, halting or curing dementia.

The closer analysis of the 2012 data showed that all patients continued their cognitive decline – but seemingly at a slower pace in those taking the drugs.

Yet developing a drug that just slows the pace of dementia would be regarded by experts as a groundbreaking moment.

Estimates suggest that delaying the onset of dementia by five years would reduce the number of cases by a third.

Dementia across the globe

  • 44 million
    globally have dementia
  • 135 million
    will have the disease in 2050
  • By then
    71%
    will be poor and middle income
  • $ 600bn
    global cost of dementia
  • In the UK, cancer research gets
    8x
    as much funding as dementia
Source: Alzheimer’s Society

Data being released on Wednesday could represent a step closer to that breakthrough drug, but the critical moment will be a fresh clinical trial expected to report next year.

The idea that amyloid is the main culprit in Alzheimer’s is still hotly debated so promising drug trial data would also hint that scientists are at least on the right track.

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