A newly discovered drug could bring scientists and medical researchers closer than ever to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The promising results come from a phase I study and involve a drug called Aducanumab; an antibody that works by clearing away the built up toxic proteins found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Researchers have been working on ways to combat these brain proteins for decades but this latest trial is the first to produce such a promising outcome. So far, there has only been one small, preliminary study but Aducanumab will be trialled further as a potential cure for the disease.
165 volunteers were initially involved in the trial, but this number changed as 40 patients dropped out over the course of the 54 week trial. This was due to some adverse side effects including headaches and increased blood pressure. The volunteers in the trial were administered the antibody, Aducanumab, to target the amyloid-beta protein which amasses in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. It is important to note that it is normal for amyloid-beta to build up in clumps in the brains of older people, but Alzheimer’s patients experience this to a much greater extent.
Aducanumab was found to successfully target the protein, more so than any other drug to date. Much bigger studies will now be carried out on larger scales to test whether the drug has the potential to prevent or reverse the progressive disease. Tara Spires-Jones is the director of the Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems at the University of Edinburgh. She has released a statement explaining that the research team are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the results of the study, but urge caution until the results are repeated in larger trials.
The Alzheimer’s Society is also hopeful about the study and has said that the most promising element lies in the results that show that the higher the dosage of Aducanumab that patients took, the more their amyloid-beta was cleared.
Dementia is the name for any of a number of progressive neurological diseases which damage the functions of the brain, most notably; memory. Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common form of dementia. More than 850,000 people in the UK are currently affected by the disease. Current statistics show that around one in 14 people over the age of 60 and one in six over the age of 80 are affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The cause of Alzheimer’s remains unclear, but studies have shown that risk factors including old age, family history of the condition and a history of head injuries increase the chance of contracting the disease.
In most cases, early symptoms start gradually and get progressively worse over a number of years. Possible signs of Alzheimer’s include; confusion and disorientation, slurred speech and problems forming sentences, personality changes (mood swings, paranoia), hallucinations and difficulty making decisions. It is important that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. If you notice a friend or family member exhibiting any of the early signs of dementia, you should encourage them to do the same.
World Alzheimer’s Month
September marks World Alzheimer’s Month. This is the fifth year that this international campaign has taken place and is set to be the biggest, most successful yet. The aim of World Alzheimer’s Month is to raise funds and awareness that can help challenge the stigma surrounding the condition and help let people know what signs to look out for.
This year, the theme of World Alzheimer’s Month will be Remember Me. One of the many ways you can get behind the campaign is by sharing your favourite memories of a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. This could be in the form of an anecdote, video or a beloved photograph – just upload the memory to your social media account this September and make sure you add the hashtags #RememberMe and #WAM2016. You could also head over to the official campaign website and print out a Remember Me poster or download a letter template to send to your local community leaders, letting them know about the campaign.