A new Alzheimer’s drug has been hailed as the biggest hope in fighting the condition seen in the last 15 years. Researchers in the UK have had “spectacular” results in clinical trials of the antibody compound BAN2401.
It works by inhibiting the build-up of the toxic protein in the brain that leads to deterioration in the organ. This in turn slows the mental decline in patients, therefore offering them a better quality of life and the ability to live independently for longer.
The scientific community was introduced to this latest advance in the fight against the condition at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago. It was met with much excitement and seen as a real breakthrough.
Alzheimer’s occurs when a patient has abnormal levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. These proteins are naturally occurring, but when they clump together they form plaques, which disrupt the functions of brain cells.
A Phase II human trial of BAN2401 found that it prevented beta-amyloid from forming plaques. The next step in the progression of the drug to market is two Phase III trials, involving a larger group of patients taking it over a longer timeframe.
It is hoped that after four years, BAN2401 will be approved for clinical use, meaning it could be widely available by 2023. While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, the drug could greatly improve the outlook for anyone diagnosed with the condition.
Professor Clive Ballard, a world-renowned dementia researcher at the University of Exeter Medical School, told The Express: “This is by far the most promising result we’ve seen of a Phase II trial. It has the potential to provide an effective treatment for people with dementia. The results on amyloid reduction and cognition are really spectacular.”
For nearly 20 years there have been no new treatments licensed for Alzheimer’s disease, despite many scientists looking for a cure. Along with other forms of dementia, it is the biggest killer in the UK and only set to rise as the population continues to age.
Some 856 patients with early onset Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment were involved in the research. Five different strengths of BAN2401 were administered to compare the effectiveness of the medication.
The most dramatic changes could be seen in those given ten milligrams per kilogram of their body weight intravenously once every two weeks. This was the highest dosage used in the trial and resulted in a 47 per cent reduction in cognitive decline.
When the 18-month trial came to an end, 81 per cent of the patients who had been taking BAN2401 no longer exhibited excess levels of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. Returning to normal levels had a positive effect on their memory, language and reasoning functions, and their behaviour.
Dr David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, told the news provider: “These are encouraging findings and suggest BAN2401 may be able to effectively tackle Alzheimer’s disease processes and, crucially, make a meaningful difference to the symptoms of people with the disease.
“While there is research still to do and we are yet to see the full results from this trial, we are optimistic about these new findings and, along with the countless families who have felt the effects of Alzheimer’s, await to hear what the next steps will be following this promising announcement.”