Second Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, succeeds in Phase 3 trial
By Nicola Williams | Wednesday 03 May 2023
Today, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced that their Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, has successfully slowed memory and thinking decline in a rigorous phase 3 trial. The TRAILBLAZER ALZ-2 trial tested the drug in nearly 1,200 people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The announcement makes this the second drug to show positive results in the last six months.
What does this mean for dementia research?
According to Lilly’s press release, the trial showed that participants who took donanemab had a slower rate of decline in memory and thinking skills, compared to people who did not receive the drug.
“We’re now on the cusp of a first generation of treatments for people with Alzheimer’s disease.” – Dr Susan Kohlhaas
“This is incredibly encouraging, and another hugely significant moment for dementia research,” commented Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, Executive Director of Research & Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“A second drug for Alzheimer’s has been shown to slow people’s cognitive decline in a rigorous phase 3 trial. We’re now on the cusp of a first generation of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, something that many thought impossible only a decade ago.”
What happens now?
As with other drugs that have emerged recently, donanemab works by removing build-up of a protein called amyloid – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s – from the brain.
The treatment effect of donanemab is modest, and some participants in the trial have experienced significant side effects from the drug. These need to be “fully scrutinized” before it can be marketed and used. Dr Kohlhaas also highlighted “the urgency of preparing the NHS to make these treatments available should regulators deem them safe and effective.”
Nevertheless, this is a significant step forward in the quest for new Alzheimer’s treatments.
“People should be really encouraged by this news, which is yet more proof that research can take us ever closer towards a cure.”