Though still in the early stages of clinical trials, a new drug, aducanumab, is showing promise in breaking down the amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Biogen, the drug’s developer, reported that in those who took the highest dose it practically eradicated the plaques in the brain. The company emphasized caution, however, in interpreting the results, in that the study included only 165 individuals and some experienced an adverse side effect known as amyloid-related imaging abnormalities, which can cause bleeding in the brain.
Amyloid plaques accumulating in the brain are widely thought to be what kills nerve cells and causes Alzheimer’s disease. The new findings showed that over one year, doses of aducanumab reduced the presence of these substances in the brain, and slowed the progression of dementia.
Two larger Phase III studies, involving 2.700 volunteers, are already under way and will determine whether the drug not only clears plaques, but also prevents memory loss. Biogen is selecting those in the earliest stage of the disease, when the plaque busting drug is expected to help the most. Individuals are chosen who have plaques in their brains, but few other symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Until the disease can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of people affected will increase significantly if current population trends continue — and New Jersey’s population is most certainly aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of New Jersey’s population that is over age 65 increased from 13.5 percent in 2010 to 14.7 percent in 2014, resulting in over 1.5 million New Jersey residents over the age of 65.
For more information about aducanumab:
Biogen’s Plaque-Busting Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Promise
Biogen Drug Shows Early Promise Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Biogen gains fast-track Alzheimer’s drug review in wake of early data
To find out about clinical trials in New Jersey, contact the Clinical Trial Connections Program of Alzheimer’s New Jersey® at phone# (888) 280-6055.