Combined results from two studies show that Solanezumab, an Alzheimer’s drug being developed by Eli Lilly & Co., might slow mental decline, particularly in milder Alzheimer’s cases. The results were announced on Monday by researchers at a conference of the American Neurological Association in Boston.
While the separate studies showed that the drug did not achieve the main goal of slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s significantly, pooled results found that mild Alzheimer’s patients administered with Solanezumab showed a 34 percent smaller decline compared to those given a placebo for 18 months.
While these results are not strong enough for the drug to be approved in the immediate future, they do indicate that by focusing on clearing the sticky deposits that clog the brains of patients, researchers are on the right track.
The most common of the dementia-related diseases, Alzheimer’s affects about 5 million patients in the U.S. alone. With no known cure, the Alzheimer’s medicines in use today like Namenda and Aricept only slow its progress or provide short-term symptom relief.
Solanezumab is one of several drugs currently in the late stages of testing that was designed with the goal of changing the progress of Alzheimer’s.
Each of the two studies involved approximately 1,000 patients in 16 countries with an average age of 75. Two-thirds of the patients had mild Alzheimer’s, while one-third had moderately severe Alzheimer’s.
Progress of Alzheimer’s was mostly measured through two tests, one focused on language, memory and thinking and the other focused on the capacity of the patient to carry out routine activities like eating and grooming. The combined results of patients with mild Alzheimer’s showed close to a 2-point difference in the approximately 90-point score for thinking abilities.
Maria Carillo of the Alzheimer’s Association, which was not involved in the research, described the results as “encouraging,” while stressing that they were by no means the “home run” that the association had been hoping for.
A spokesperson for Lilly said that the company will be contacting the Food and Drug Administration to discuss the next steps.