Today marks a ‘new era’ in taking on Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia – thanks to groundbreaking research.
For the first time ever in a clinical trial, a drug has been shown to reduce the disease in the brain and slow memory decline.
Although the medicine that has been developed, Lecanemab, only has a small effect and works only in the early stages of the disease, Alzheimer’s Research UK has said the findings are “momentous”.
The breakthrough marks the end of decades of failure, after it has been proven that a certain protein in the brain is partly responsible for the disease.
The 30-year-old theory being proven correct is a massive turning point in dementia research and it is hoped that it will now pave the way for life-changing treatments in the future.
The current drug, Lecanemab, works by attacking the ‘gunge’ (known as beta amyloid) that builds up in the brains of those affected by the disease.
The results of a 18-month course of the drug slowed the decline in memory and mental agility by 27% in patients with mild Alzheimer’s.
Rob Howard, professor of old age psychiatry at University College London, told Sky News: “At long last we have gained some traction on this most terrible and feared disease and the years of research and investment have finally paid off.
“It feels momentous and historic. This will encourage real optimism that dementia can be beaten and one day even cured.”
Dr Susan Kohlhaas, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, also said this is a “truly a historic moment”.
“These exciting findings represent a major step forward for dementia research and could herald a new era for people with Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.
“This is the first time a drug has been shown to both reduce the disease in the brain and slow memory decline in clinical trials.”
There is still a way to go until the drug is approved for widespread use by the NHS, but Professor John Hardy, group leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute at University College London, added: “The first step is the hardest, and we now know exactly what we need to do to develop effective drugs.
“It’s exciting to think that future work will build on this, and we will soon have life-changing treatments to tackle this disease.”