There is potentially good news in the fight against Alzheimer’s, as the first ever drug to slow down the condition is set to be brought to market. Drugs company Biogen is set to file for approval of Aducanumab in a step closer to making it available in Europe, the US and Japan.
Aducanumab targets the toxic amyloid beta proteins in the brain, which cause plaques to build up and impair cognitive function. Biogen has carried out clinical trials of the drug on 3,000 individuals with the disease and seen a significant slowing of Alzheimer’s progression in each case.
This could be a big breakthrough in the area of Alzheimer’s treatment, as despite the fact that billions of pounds has been spent on research into the condition, there have so far been no drugs to reach this stage. Submitting an application for approval for a treatment to slow Alzheimer’s after it has taken hold could be a big step forward.
Michel Vounatsos, chief executive officer at Biogen, said: “We got clear support from the FDA [Food and Drugs Administration]. With such a devastating disease that affects tens of millions worldwide, today’s announcement is truly heartening in the fight against Alzheimer’s.”
Currently, treatments for Alzheimer’s focus on stopping symptoms before they take hold and are only effective if there is an early diagnosis. Once the disease has become advanced, there is little physicians can do to reverse the effects.
If Biogen successfully gets aducanumab through the application process and obtains licences for the drug, it could become available within the next two years. This could offer hope for the 500,000 people in Britain, who are mostly elderly, living with Alzheimer’s, as well as their families.
All of the Alzheimer’s drugs on the market at present work to control some symptoms but only for short amounts of time and are unable to target the cause of the disease. It’s been 15 years since any new treatment has been approved, as most potential drugs fail to make it past the trial stage of the process.
The announcement that aducanumab will be put forward for approval comes as a big shock in the industry, as back in March it was thought to have been abandoned by Biogen. While two trials were cancelled, the company pooled the results from a number of smaller ones and found that the highest doses of the drug were most effective.
Dr James Pickett, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “After the trial being stopped earlier this year because it appeared not to work, further analysis suggests that it does benefit people with dementia in the earliest stages.
“We’re waiting for further data but this could be the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in over 15 years, and as such, has the potential to be a transformative discovery.”
While aducanumab may be the first step in halting Alzheimer’s in the future, it’s still vitally important that diagnoses are made early. Families are reminded to keep an eye on their elderly relatives and to look out for signs of everyday confusion and forgetfulness, as well as mood swings.