Could Biogen’s new drug be the key to stopping Alzheimers early?

The U.S drug company, Biogen, have stated that a trial drug has removed plaques from the brains of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The small study of 165 people was designed to test the drug on humans and not its effects on the brain, yet the the results have shown that patients in the early stages of Alzheimers who were treated with the highest dose of the drug did not show signs of their condition worsening after six months.

The drug, known as aducanumab, targets amyloid plaques in the brain. It has previously been suggested that the amyloid protein causes memory loss through its eradication of healthy neurons. Debate about the driving factors behind the development of Alzheimers have been ongoing for years – whilst some experts remain sure that amyloid plaques are a side effect of the disease and not the cause, the development of aducanumab means a potential resolution to the questions experts have about the disease.

Though the preliminary results have shown much promise and excited the scientific community at large, it has also been revealed that 40 patients dropped out of the trials having experienced negative side effects. One of the most concerning side effects of the drug was a build up of fluid in the brain, which can lead to brain bleeds.

Alfred Sandrock, Biogen’s chief medical officer, said that it is his hope that the drug would lead to developments that allow treatment before people have symptoms of the disease, much like cholesterol lowering statins are used to prevent heart attacks.

Current numbers of Alzheimers sufferers in Britain is expected to reach one million by 2025. Alzheimers experts have been optimistic about the results, with James Pickett at the Alzheimer’s Society stating that “these results are the most detailed and promising that we’ve seen.”

Following the promising results, larger trials of the drug have been planned to run until 2020. Biogen is currently recruiting for 2,700 patients across 2,000 countries.


Contributor: Daisy Reece

September 1, 2016