Eli Lilly and Company’s experimental intravenous drug donanemab may slow the cognitive decline of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to early clinical trial results, published in The New England Journal of Medicine on March 6th, 2021.
The study included 257 patients with early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease; 131 received donanemab, while 126 received a placebo. The researchers found donanemab slowed the decline of cognition and daily function in Alzheimer’s patients by 32% after 76 weeks, compared to those who received a placebo.
The experimental Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab, developed by the pharmaceutical company Biogen and its Japanese partner Eisai, is currently under review by the FDA.
Many of the most promising Alzheimer’s drug candidates aim to target amyloid beta plaques and tau proteins, since the buildup of these correlates with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The goal with drugs such as donanemab isn’t to cure the disease, but to preserve a person’s memory and cognition for longer.
Some researchers in the field believe that “if you stop amyloid early enough, and you slow down that tau, you might be able to slow Alzheimer’s,” Carrillo. “That’s what this paper is trying to show, and it is one of the very first times we’ve seen this.”
The research on donanemab is early, and the researchers say that longitudinal and larger trials are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of the drug.