An experimental Alzheimer’s drug has been hailed as a “momentous breakthrough” by researchers, who said it could lead to a new wave of treatments for the condition.
Lecanemab targets a protein called tau, which is thought to play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s.
The drug, which is being developed by Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, was found to significantly improve memory and reduce the level of tau in the brain in a small clinical trial.
While the trial was only in a small number of patients, the results are seen as a major step forward in the battle against Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia.
There are currently no drugs that can stop or reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s, and the only treatments available only offer limited symptomatic relief.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain condition that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour.
It is thought to affect around 850,000 people in the UK, and is set to rise to over 2 million by 2050.
The new drug, which is still in development, will need to undergo larger clinical trials before it could be approved for use.
But the results of the small trial are seen as a major step forward in the fight against Alzheimer’s, which currently has no cure.
Professor Roger Morris, from King’s College London, one of the researchers involved in the trial, said: “This is a momentous breakthrough in Alzheimer’s disease research.
“For the first time, we have a drug that can target and bind to the protein tau and prevent it from spreading in the brain.
“This is a major step forward in our understanding of the disease and could lead to a new wave of treatments for Alzheimer’s.”
Dr Simon Ridley, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Currently there are no treatments available that can slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, so these findings could represent a real step forward.
“The trial was small and only looked at the drug’s effect over a short period of time, so we need to see the results replicated in larger and longer studies before we can know if this drug could benefit people living with Alzheimer’s.”