Yesterday, Tuesday 22 October, US pharmaceutical company Biogen announced that they plan to ask US drug regulators to approve their experimental Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab.

Aducanumab is designed to target amyloid, a protein that builds up in the brains of people with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The announcement follows Phase III clinical trials called ENGAGE and EMERGE, which looked at whether aducanumab slowed cognitive decline in people with early stage Alzheimer’s.

The outcome of this research is thanks, in part, to some of our fantastic Join Dementia Research volunteers.

Vital clinical research can only happen when people volunteer to take part, and 25 people took part in the ENGAGE study trial after being matched through Join Dementia Research – this was approximately 30% of participants in the UK.

New evidence

In March Biogen nearly abandoned the treatment, after analysis suggested the trials were unlikely to improve memory sufficiently.

But after the trials stopped, a larger amount of data became available. Analysis of this new data produced promising results – those who received high doses of aducanumab showed a slowing in the decline of their cognitive ability.

MRI brain scan images

What does this announcement mean?

No new Alzheimer’s drugs have been licensed in the UK since 2002, and if approved aducanumab would be the first drug to tackle the underlying changes in the brain that drive Alzheimer’s disease.

The announcement is a positive step towards a new dementia treatment but it will be a while before aducanumab is potentially available. There is still work to do to be sure that the drug is both safe and effective.

Experts need to closely scrutinise these aducanumab trial findings. The drug will also need to be approved by regulators, not only in the US but also in Europe. This process can take some time.

However after recent disappointing news from other trials, this announcement brings renewed hope to all those affected by dementia and really shows the value that taking part in research can have.

Improving dementia care and treatments

The ENGAGE study is not currently looking for participants.

However there are many other studies recruiting, and the best way to help make 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.

Sign up to Join Dementia Research today to be told of studies that are open now, and to be notified of new studies in the future.