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New drug may slow memory loss in cases of mild Alzheimer’s

October 9, 2012
by Sandra Hoban, Executive Editor
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While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the combined results of two studies of the experimental drug solanezumab, developed by Eli Lilly & Co., show 34 percent less mental decline in patients with mild Alzheimer’s than those in a placebo group. However, the data did not show that the drug protected against loss of physical function.

Findings in two clinical studies show significant slowdowns in the decline of cognitive functioning. Averaging the results of the two studies, one of which was statistically significant and the other not, Lilly cites a 34 percent reduction in cognitive, or memory, decline. One study found a 42 percent decline in cognitive function and the second, a 20 percent reduction in decline.

While doctors suggest the results are not strong enough to have solanezumab approved by regulators at the Food and Drug Administration, at this time there is confidence that researchers are on the right track in focusing on the sticky deposits, created by the protein beta amyloid, that clog the brain.

In a release, Dr. Rachel Doody of Baylor College of Medicine (Houston), who presented the data on solanezumab at the American Neurological Association convention, said, “Our committee is encouraged by the results of the solanezumab studies. They support amyloid as a target for future Alzheimer’s research.”

Maria Carillo, senior director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, said, “It’s certainly not the home run we all wanted, but we’re very encouraged by these results.”

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