World is on the brink of wonder a drug to slow dementia

Dementia’s cruel hold on the brain could be loosened if a wonder drug is fast-tracked for approval.

The world will hold its breath today as full results from donanemab trials are published for the first time.

They are expected to show the intravenous drug is the best hope yet of putting the handbrake on incurable brain-wasting diseases like Alzheimer’s.

US pharma giant Eli Lilly will reveal final updates on initial findings that showed donanemab slowed the rate at which memory and thinking skills decline by 36 percent.

It could allow sufferers to continue near-normal lives, slowing the rapid decline which is a hallmark of the cruel disease.

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The results are expected to be announced at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Amsterdam.

Samantha Benham-Hermetz, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We’re a step closer to a world where Alzheimer’s is treatable.

“The arrival of treatments of this kind has the potential to radically improve the lives of people affected by dementia, and those who are at risk of developing it in the future.

“Express readers should be really encouraged by these developments, which is more proof research can take us ever closer towards a cure.”

Donanemab is the latest generation of immunotherapy drugs already used to treat cancer. It tells the immune system to attack foreign cells or proteins and dispose of them. In this case, the treatment teaches immune cells to recognise and remove a toxic protein, amyloid, which builds up in Alzheimer’s.

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There are now 850,000 dementia sufferers in Britain, more than 500,000 of whom have Alzheimer’s.

If donanemab is granted approval in Britain, where one in three people born today will develop dementia, it could be available on the NHS in as little as two years. Results of the study showed nearly half of those on the 18-month trial – compared to 29 per cent on placebo – had no clinical progression of the disease after one year.

Donanemab was given to patients with early stage Alzheimer’s.

Researchers think the drug – the first to slow down the worsening of cognitive symptoms – might not be effective for people with moderate or severe versions of disease.

This is because amyloid will have caused too much damage. In the early stages it led to a 40 percent slowing in the decline of ability to carry out simple daily tasks that allow an individual to live independently and meaningfully.

Earlier this month the US drug licensing body approved the first Alzheimer’s drug shown to slow the progression of the disease.

It granted full approval for lecanemab, developed by Japanese drugmaker Eisai and US biotech giant Biogen.

Lecanemab targets amyloid as it begins to form fibres, whereas donanemab binds to amyloid once the fibres have clumped together.

Professor Jon Schott, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The NHS needs to gear up to deliver these medicines to everyone who may benefit.”

Before it is licensed in the UK, donanemab will need approval from the Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Agency and then the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. The earliest it could be available on the NHS is 2025.

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