Experimental Alzheimer's drug shows promise in small trial

Experimental Alzheimer's drug shows promise in small trial
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An experimental Alzheimer's drug from Eli Lilly showed significant slowing of decline in patients with early symptoms of the disease, the company said Monday.

The results from a small clinical trial have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but could hold promise for patients and their families in the future. 

The drug, called donanemab, is a monoclonal antibody designed to clear clumps of the plaques in Alzheimer's patient's brains, which are made from a protein called amyloid.  

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In the trial of 272 patients, Lilly said the drug slowed the decline in memory and ability to perform activities of daily living by 32 percent among people who received the therapy compared with those who got a placebo.

Patients in the study stopped receiving donanemab and were switched to placebo once their brain plaques reached levels seen in healthy people. 

Lilly said the drug showed positive results in the trial’s secondary endpoints measuring cognition and function compared to a placebo, but did not reach statistical significance on all of them.

The study did not show that the drug stopped Alzheimer's or cured it. But if successful, the trial showed that donanemab could at least slow the progression of the disease.

Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly's chief scientific officer, said in a statement the trial shows donanemab has the potential to provide high levels of plaque clearance even after a limited duration dosing. 

The full results of the study will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed clinical journal, and Lilly said it plans to discuss the results with regulators to assess the next steps for the drug.