A trial of the experimental drug BAN2401 left attendees of the 2018 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Chicago in hopeful spirits. Researchers from Japanese pharmaceutical group Eisai and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Biogen are cautiously optimistic that their new drug represents a breakthrough for Alzheimer’s research.
In the trial, researchers found that BAN2401 reduced new formation of beta amyloid clusters in patient’s brains, and it also reduced existing clusters by 70%. Alzheimer’s is a complicated disease, but scientists hypothesize that when beta amyloid metabolize abnormally it begins to destroy brain synapses, beta amyloid then clumps and kills nerve cells in the brain.
The two groups of researchers tested 856 patients with early Alzheimer’s, and higher doses of medication led to a 30% reduction in Alzheimer’s development compared to those who were given a placebo.
Previous research into beta amyloid reduction has been a marked failure, but this new research was the first of its kind to use PET scans to confirm that participants already had beta amyloid clumping.
Therefore, researchers believe the work is highly promising, although the test still has to be peer-reviewed and replicated by other researchers. While the drug would not represent a cure-all for Alzheimer’s reducing progression of the disease would be a huge development.
Nearly 6 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and this number is projected to double in the next 30 years. Alzheimer’s research has faced many hurdles, and the complex nature of the disease is part of the reason experts predict a sharp rise in patients as the population ages.
The many Americans who suffer from the disease will have to wait until further trials are conducted, and if all a larger trial is successful it would still be several years until the drug receives FDA approval.
For further information on the trial of BAN2401, you can read Biogen’s news release on the results of their research.
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