In November of 2022, pharmaceutical company Eisai released the results of Alzheimer’s treatment, lecanemab, with hopes of tackling and reducing the effects of Alzehmiers rather than treating it. The U.K. regulator is considering whether to approve a drug called lecanemab for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. A monoclonal antibody, the drug clears amyloid proteins from the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In clinical trials, it was found to slow down memory degradation and reduce amyloid levels in the brain. Lecanemab is designed for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and the results of clinical trials show it could slow dementia progression, allowing patients to live independently for longer. Lecanemab could be available in the U.K. soon if approved. Fast forward a few months later, Hilary Evans, co-chair of the government’s new dementia mission, and the chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, announced the drug’s possible rollout in the U.K. could spell an end for dementia for future generations! “This could be the last generation that doesn’t have access to drugs,” she said. These treatments could potentially reduce the impact of the neurodegenerative disease on the population. She also warned that an overhaul of NHS dementia care was required to ensure that patients could access the first effective Alzheimer’s drugs, which could be approved in the U.K. as soon as next year. The lecanemab drug, developed by Eisai and Biogen, showed promising results in trials, but there are concerns about its modest benefits, cost, and safety issues. Evans compared the drug to early cancer or HIV treatments, which revolutionized outcomes for the next generation of patients. She also expressed concerns over the ability of the NHS to deliver the treatments that could be approved for clinical use, highlighting the need for investment and leadership. “The fury that would come from organizations like our own, patients and potential patients would be one best avoided. There’s an opportunity to get this right. It’s going to need investment and leadership.”
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New Alzheimer’s treatment, lecanemab, makes the headlines: what’s next?