London: An experimental drug for Alzheimer's disease has already exceeded high expectations in an early study.
The results of the trial of an antibody known as aducanumab, which involved just 166 patients, have shown some benefit in people who were given it in the very earliest stage of the disease, the Guardian reported.
In the trial, conducted primarily to ensure the drug was safe and had no serious side-effects, brain scans showed a reduction of amyloid plaque, whose accumulation is thought to be one of the major causes of Alzheimer's.
The higher the dose of drug the patient was given, the greater the reduction and tests also showed that those people who took the drug had a slower rate of mental decline than those who did not.
Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said that these are very promising early results, which not only demonstrate the safety of this treatment, but also suggest it may hold benefits in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Karran added that while many previous anti-amyloid therapies have failed to meet their goals, these preliminary findings back up research suggesting that treatments targeting amyloid will need to be given early in the disease.
Karran noted that further data from this trial is yet to be reported, and it will be important to see this data as well as results from much larger trials before we can understand how effective this treatment may be.
Alfred Sandrock, group senior vice-president and chief medical officer at Biogen Idec, the company that made the drug, announced it would be moving quickly into large-scale trials which will involve hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
The trial results were presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases and Related Neurological Disorders in Nice, France.