A clinical trial has revealed a new Alzheimer’s drug can successfully slow down decline in memory and thinking by 35 per cent.

Donanemab has been shown to significantly reduce cognitive decline in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

The trial by US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly showed it has been successful in removing sticky amyloid plaques from the brain. The drug was shown to slow progression of Alzheimer’s by approximately 35 per cent in 1,182 patients whose brains had deposits of two key Alzheimer’s proteins, beta amyloid and tau, a protein linked with disease progression and brain cell death. It recruited three participants through Join Dementia Research.

Donanemab is a disease-modifying treatment, which means that rather than tackling the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it tackles one of the root causes. It is an immunotherapy drug, which uses the body’s immune system to remove foreign proteins. It is believed these types of drugs are effective in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s, rather than those with a moderate or severe condition.

Professor John O’Brien, NIHR Clinical Research Network National Speciality Lead for Dementia said: “We are pleased to see the results of this study. These results, along with the trials into lecanemab last year show we are entering an exciting chapter in using immunotherapy drugs to lower amyloid levels in the brain in people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are excited about the future potential of this new generation of treatments, which, used alongside other approaches, heralds a new chapter in how we approach the disease.

“Whilst they are not a cure, these drugs can help slow the decline in brain function in people in the early stages of the condition. It is important we continue research as we need more effective drugs and ones that are easier to administer.”

People taking donanemab were found to have a 40 per cent reduction in the decline of their ability to carry out daily activities such as hobbies, driving and managing finance.

However, 24 per cent of people taking donanemab in the late-stage trial experienced some swelling in the brain.

Further trials of the drug are needed and the side-effects will be carefully considered alongside the benefits by regulatory authorities, before deciding whether to make the drug available to people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about the results of the trial on Eli Lily’s website.

The best way to help make further dementia breakthroughs possible is to take part in research.

Join Dementia Research makes it easy to find out what research is happening in the UK that you might be able to take part in.

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