CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – Early results from a clinical trial show a new Alzheimer's disease treatment – a drug called aducanumab – may alleviate memory loss.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company Biogen developed the drug and funded the study, which tested aducanumab's safety in humans and was not designed to test for brain benefits.
The test measured brain activity of 165 participants, some of whom received the drug once a month for up to 54 weeks, while others received a placebo. Of those who received the drug, 103 experienced a reduction in the amount of tangled amyloid-β, the toxic proteins thought to trigger Alzheimer's, in their brains.
When injected into early-stage Alzheimer's patients, one or two in every thousand of the antibodies enter the brain where they latch on to wayward amyloid-β proteins. Researchers believe that other cells called microglia then arrive and clear the aberrant proteins from the brain.
Scientists have debated for years whether the buildup of amyloid-β causes memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer's. The trial's results were in favor of the "amyloid hypothesis," which suggests that elimination of the protein itself might alleviate the disease's symptoms.
Two major phase III trials are now in progress, and are planned to run until at least 2020.
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