26 January 2018

Alzheimer's treatment: another failure

Solanezumab, a monoclonal antibody, was developed by Eli Lilly for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The mechanism of its action is the dissolution of beta-amyloid. The third phase of clinical trials did not show a statistically significant effect in slowing cognitive impairment as a result of taking the drug.

The development of the drug was based on the assumption of researchers about the damaging effect of amyloid plaques on brain tissue.

Beta-amyloid is a pathological protein that accumulates in Alzheimer's disease and forms amyloid plaques. They destroy the nerve cells of the brain, causing clinical manifestations of the disease in the form of cognitive impairment.


On the left is a snapshot of the brain of a patient who does not suffer from Alzheimer's disease. On the right is a snapshot of the brain of a patient who participated in a clinical study of solanezumab. Positron emission tomography. Source: Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Solanezumab was supposed to dissolve beta-amyloid before it formed plaques.

A double-blind placebo-controlled multicenter clinical trial of solanezumab involved 2,129 people with mild Alzheimer's disease.

This study was the first major clinical trial of Alzheimer's disease requiring molecular evidence of amyloid beta accumulation in the brain.

Taking solanezumab (400 mg every 4 weeks) led to some beneficial effects, but the main evaluated result – improvement on the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (cognitive subscale) - had no statistically significant differences with the placebo group.

The authors suggest that, perhaps, the negative result is associated with an incorrect dose or frequency of taking solanezumab, as well as with the untimely start of treatment.

Currently, studies of solanezumab are being conducted in elderly people without clinical manifestations of Alzheimer's disease to assess the effectiveness of the drug as a preventive method.

The negative result undoubtedly upset the medical community. But there is hope for other drugs to treat or slow down Alzheimer's disease that are currently being tested in clinical trials.

Article by Lawrence S. Honig et al. The trial of Solanezumab for Mild Dementia Due to Alzheimer's Disease is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru Based on Columbia University Medical Center: Alzheimer's Drug Targeting Soluble Amyloid Falls Short in a Large Clinical Trial.

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