New treatment method against Alzheimer's successfully tested
Researchers have been looking for ways to treat Alzheimer's disease for years. Supposed successes have repeatedly been reported in the meantime, but a real breakthrough has not yet been achieved. A possible treatment approach is to break down the harmful protein deposits in the brains of those affected with the help of certain medicines. An active ingredient now seems to be found here with which the harmful amyloid deposits in the brain of Alzheimer's patients can be reduced. The antibody aducanumab has already shown its effects in the first clinical studies in humans.
"The developed antibody aducanumab leads to a significant decrease in the harmful beta-amyloid plaques in patients with early forms of Alzheimer's," said the University of Zurich (UZH). Together with scientists from the USA, Swiss researchers have investigated the use of aducanumab in Alzheimer's patients with very convincing results. The researchers report on their study in the journal "Nature". Although the results of further ongoing studies are still to be seen, the scientists hope that the antibodies will soon be used as medicines for Alzheimer's.
Breakdown of amyloid deposits in the brain
Together with the US biotechnology company Biogen from Cambridge and other participants, the UZH researchers tested the effect of aducanumab in 165 patients with early Alzheimer's in a clinical phase Ib study. The aim of the treatment was to break down the amyloid plaques, which are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and are responsible for the gradual death of the brain cells. UZH reports that the beta-amyloid plaques in the patients' brains were practically completely eliminated as a result of the one-year therapy with the antibody as part of the study.
Improvement of clinical symptoms
The researchers have succeeded in proving "that a human monoclonal antibody called aducanumab binds specifically to the disease-causing brain deposits, which leads to their removal by microglial cells," according to the University of Zurich. In their study, the scientists also examined how the therapy affects the symptoms of the disease. For this purpose, standardized questionnaires were used, with which the cognitive skills or everyday activities of the patients can be determined. According to Professor Dr. med. Roger M. Nitsch from the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at UZH showed aducanumab "also with the clinical symptoms good results."
Loss of cognitive skills largely stopped
According to Prof. Nitsch, the effect of the antibody was impressive and the effect occurred depending on the dosage and duration of the therapy. When the highest antibody dose was administered, practically no beta-amyloid plaques were detectable after one year. In addition, the researchers found that the subjects in the placebo group deteriorated significantly, while they remained significantly more stable in the patients with the highest antibody dose. The loss of cognitive ability was largely stopped after one year of aducanumab treatment compared to the placebo group, according to the UZH.
Ongoing clinical studies
The University of Zurich reports that the safety and efficacy of the antibody in a total of 2,700 volunteers with the onset of Alzheimer's disease are currently being evaluated in two large phase III clinical studies. Appropriate investigations are carried out in more than 300 participating centers in 20 countries in North America, Europe and Asia. "By working closely with the regulatory authorities, we hope to be able to provide effective treatments for patients affected by Alzheimer's disease as soon as possible," said Alfred Sandrock in a message from the biotechnology company Biogen. (fp)