Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise in Small Trial

If accurate, it is the first time a positive result has been found in a so-called Phase 2 study, said Dr. Lon S. Schneider, professor of psychiatry, neurology and gerontology at the University of Southern California.

The drug, donanemab, a monoclonal antibody, binds to a small part of the hard plaques in the brain made of a protein, amyloid, that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

The small study needs to be replicated, noted Dr. Michael Weiner, a leading Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

Pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars testing anti-amyloid drugs to no avail, leading many experts to believe that the hypothesis is wrong — or that the only way to treat Alzheimer’s is to start very early, before there are any clinical signs of disease.

The Eli Lilly trial recruited patients not based on symptoms but on scans showing significant accumulations of amyloid in their brains.

The main side effect was one regularly seen in patients given experimental monoclonal antibodies to treat Alzheimer’s: an accumulation of fluid in the brain.

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