Alzheimer’s clinical trial drug sees slowing in disease progression

A Washington University researcher is leading a local trial of the drug.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:39 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - A major step forward for Alzheimer’s research is happening here in St. Louis.

A clinical trial is finding that the drug Lecanemab is slowing down memory loss for some patients. Eisai and Biogen announced positive results from the phase 3 CLARITY AD clinical trial of the drug, which is used for the treatment of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease and mild Alzheimer’s dementia.

The trial slowed the rate of cognitive decline by 27 percent. Neurologist Dr. Joy Snider led the trial at Washington University and says the drug doesn’t improve memory that’s already been lost but it slows down patients from getting worse.

“That’s huge,” Dr. Snider says. “We’ve been testing drugs for the entire time I’ve been in the field, for 25 years, and we’ve never had a drug that we knew was directed at the disease process that actually worked.”

However, it doesn’t mean the work is done. Dr. Snider says the next step with this drug is finding a way for it to be safely given to patients.

“It requires a lot of MRI scans to make sure the drug isn’t damaging the brain so we’re gonna need to work on that,” Dr. Snider says. “There’s a lot more yet to be done but it’s a happy day.”

Vice President of Programming for the Alzheimer’s Association Sarah Lovegreen says this is life-changing. Lovegreen says it also places an emphasis on the importance of early diagnosis.

“They’re able to have more meaningful time with their families,” Lovegreen says. “They’re able to actually participate longer in their own healthcare decision making and sort of what their future planning would look like.”

Lisa Bornstein runs support groups for the Alzheimer’s Association. Three of Bornstein’s grandparents, both of her parents and her sister were all diagnosed with dementia.

“A lot of people forget things but when I do, it’s a little more scary because I get worried a lot,” Bornstein says.

Bornstein says developments in research like this give her hope for the people living with the disease and their family members.

“Once it gets past a certain point, it’s just a devastating disease,” Bornstein says. “It’s very difficult.”

The drug needs to be approved by the FDA before it can be used outside of clinical trials.