In what some experts are hailing as a major breakthrough in the field of Alzheimer’s research, a new investigational drug was found to reduce the disease’s hallmark plaques— potentially slowing cognitive decline and preventing the disease. AD is marked by amyloid plaques, which are believed to be the main culprit in the most common form of dementia. Build-up of amyloid proteins leads to plaques, which blocks cell-to-cell signaling. In the trial by Biogen, researchers tested an antibody to see whether it can bind and break down amyloid protein, Time reported.
In the new yearlong clinical trial reported in the journal, Nature, researchers gave 165 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s monthly infusions of either the antibody, aducanumab, or a placebo, and did a series of brain scans. The people taking aducanumab showed a sharp decrease in the amount of amyloid beta in their brains. The higher the dose of aducanumab they received, the greater the amyloid clearance revealed in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. However, 40 patients dropped out of the trial because of adverse side effects. The larger question remains is whether clearing amyloid beta will lead to dramatic improvements in cognitive decline.