Results of a study conducted by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly are suggesting a new drug can reduce the rate of dementia’s progression be approximately a third.
The new drug, Solanezumab, will act to preserve the brain cells and actively protect them by destroying the “deformed proteins” that build up within the brain over time – causing Alzheimer’s.
The current medication available to those with Alzheimer’s simply helps to keep the brain cells that are diminishing, at a functioning level, therefore supplementing without providing a more concrete protection against further decline.
The deformed proteins, called amyloid, are thought to form a sticky membrane between nerve cells that damage the brain cells and inevitably lead to their death.
Data has shown that when used as a treatment for patients in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s, it appeared to slow the decline by around 34%.
Dr Eric Siemers, from the Lilly Research Laboratories, in Indiana, told the BBC: “It’s another piece of evidence that solanezumab does have an effect on the underlying disease pathology.
“We think there is a chance that solanezumab will be the first disease-modifying medication to be available.”
The trial results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
Whilst the data is merely a speck in the research needed to conclusively attest to a ‘breakthrough’ in Alzheimer’s treatment, the trial results are useful for conducting further research along the lines of attacking the cells that aid in the decline – instead of treating those that have already diminished.
Clare Walton, the research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, told the BBC: “The data hints that the antibodies are having an effect, it is promising and it’s better than no effect, but it’s inconclusive.
“After a decade of no treatments and many drug failures, it’s exciting to get promising news, but it doesn’t really tell us either way, and we need to wait for the phase-three study, and that is in 18 months.”