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New Alzheimer’s experimental treatment gives researchers optimism

Researchers turn to a beta-amyloid antagonist for hope in treating Alzheimer’s.

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In the U.S., more than five million people live with cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s, with that number reaching 10 million in a worldwide setting, according to statistics by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Despite the growing number of cases each year, researchers have failed to establish contentment in a treatment that could particularly help reduce or reverse symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease. That is, until now.

Researchers are turning to BAN2401, an experimental drug able to antagonize the protein fragment beta-amyloid, instrumental in the development of cognitive deficits caused by the disease.

In a clinical trial, researchers found that the new experimental drug, manufactured by Biogen and Eisai, had significantly improved cognitive decline in patients by up to 30 percent when administered at the highest dose following 18 months of tests.

Compared to a placebo, BAN2401 demonstrated efficacy in improving cognition, while reducing new and existing beta-amyloid clusters by up to 70 percent. Researchers say the treatment reached a 20 percent slowing rate of Alzheimer’s progression in a period of 12 months, faster than the fixated goal set at 18 months.

Lynn Kramer, the chief medical officer at Eisai, dubbed the test a success in a media briefing. “We think this result is really the first of its kind, robust enough to approach regulatory authorities to discuss next steps.”

The findings provide optimism given the notion of previously failed clinical trials targetting amyloid plagues.

Biogen has announced the testing of another experimental treatment, this one named “aducanumab.” It’s expected to enter more clinical trials by 2020. Researchers remain hopeful that further testing of the amyloid hypothesis may bring about the world’s first effective treatment for the neurodegenerative disease.

“What we see is the amyloid hypothesis remains something that needs to continue to be tested,” said Maria Carrillo, the chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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