Researchers from Eisai and Eli Lilly presented a study that showed the benefits for patients of using new Alzheimer’s medications very early in its development.
The Japanese pharmaceutical group Eisai has revealed that a new analysis shows 60 percent of patients in the very early stages Alzheimer’s disease showed clinical improvement after taking Leqembi over 18 months. This compares to 28 percent of those on a control. Around 76 percent of participants did not show any decline in their health, compared with 55 percent in the placebo group.
Leqembi was approved by the US, Japan, and Japan earlier in this year. This is the first drug to be found that slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease rather than treating the symptoms. The drug is already targeted at patients with Alzheimer’s in its early stages, but new data suggest that it’s worth starting earlier.
Alex Scott, Eisai’s executive vice president, stated that the company was looking to determine the earliest stage at which patients would benefit from the drug. On brain scans, the subgroup of patients studied had low levels tau protein tangles that are typical of the disease.
Leqembi, as well as Eli Lilly’s new drug Donanemab, both target amyloid. This toxic protein builds up in brains, often before tau levels are significant.
“We believe this gives the system a sense of urgency in identifying and treating these patients.” Scott explained that it is similar to cancer. Do you want cancer to be detected at the third stage or would you prefer us to detect cancer earlier?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and affects more than 55 million people around the world. But many large pharmaceutical companies were hesitant to invest heavily after decades of failed treatments.
Eisai presented new data on Alzheimer’s disease at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease Conference in Boston on March 23, where Eli Lilly presented research that showed donanemab was more effective if taken earlier.
Lilly announced that, following positive results, which were announced in May this year, further analysis of donanemab’s data revealed that, after 76-weeks, the disease progression of participants with low to moderate levels of tau was slowed down by 36%, compared to 29% for all participants. The drug reduced the risk that the disease would progress to moderate Alzheimer’s in the group with lower levels of tau.
Eisai announced at the conference new data that showed the effectiveness of the subcutaneous form of Leqembi which can be administered at home weekly as opposed to the current fortnightly method in the clinic.
After six months of treatment, the study showed that the drug cleared up 14 percent more amyloid deposits in Alzheimer’s brains. It also had the same level of microhaemorrhages, or ARIA, which are the most serious side effects.
Biogen released data on Wednesday from an early-stage trial of a drug. It said that this was the first time that a medicine that targets tau can reduce the amount of the protein in the brain, and improve the patient’s outcome. Priya Singhal is the head of Biogen’s development and the company is very excited by the preliminary findings. They are currently enrolling patients in a phase two trial.
She said, “We are committed to exploring targeting tau as a novel treatment.”