The quest to effectively diagnose, treat, and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease has become the intense focus of both scientists and philanthropists, with world leaders setting 2025 as the target date. A milestone moment in that quest may have been reached on Wednesday, thanks to the results of a promising clinical trial, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago.
Using an antibody known as BAN2401, researchers were able to reduce in the brains of patients the plaques, or beta amyloid clusters, characteristic of the disease by an average of 70%. They were also able to slow the formulation of new plaques.
Behind the trial were U.S. biotechnology company Biogen (BIIB), based in Cambridge, Mass, and Japanese drugmaker Eisai. Scientists’ reactions ranged from cautiously optimistic to skeptical; the road to a better Alzheimer’s drug has so far been marked with failures, and BAN2401 showed at best incremental improvement.
Lynn Kramer, Eisai’s chief clinical and medical officer, told CNN: “These were people with very mild impairments, some confusion, forgetting someone’s name on occasion. That’s the goal: to stop Alzheimer’s disease when it’s in the mildest presentation.”
More trials will follow to determine whether the drug is effective. Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, affects some 44 million people worldwide, including 5.5 million Americans, with numbers predicted to triple by 2050.