A drug called aducanumab might remove the toxic proteins thought to trigger Alzheimer’s disease from the brain, suggests findings from a small clinical trial.
The results, reported on 31 August in Nature1, showed that aducanumab broke up amyloid-β proteins in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The trial mainly tested the safety of the drug in people, and so the final word on whether aducanumab works to ameliorate the memory and cognitive losses associated with Alzheimer’s will have to wait until the completion of two larger phase III trials. They are now in progress, and planned to run until at least 2020.
The latest study involved 165 people split into different groups, some of which received the drug and one which received a placebo. In the group receiving infusions of aducanumab, 103 patients given the drug once a month for up to 54 weeks experienced a reduction in the amount of tangled amyloid-β in their brains. These results echoed the findings of a pretrial mouse study — reported in the same paper1 — in which the drug seemed to clear amyloid-β plaques from the animals’ brains.