Lecanemab: Slows Down Alzheimer’s But Linked with Deaths


Experimental drug Lecanemab slows down the cognitive deterioration in people with early onset Alzheimer’s.

The trial has been under work for quite a while and is a breakthrough in dementia research. Especially after the spark of high risks among people and its concerns.

Lecanemab is a monoclonal antibody. It actively removes amyloid-beta, which builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. The researchers conducted an 18-month trial among 1800 people, which revealed the drug slowed the functional and cognitive impairment by 27% in early Alzheimer’s participants.

The makers of the drug Biogen and Eisai were very excited about this trial, now published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Research Director, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr. Susan Kohlhaas said,

This is the first time a drug has been shown to both reduce the disease in the brain and slow memory decline in clinical trials

She further added,

Although the benefits were small and came with significant side effects, it marks the arrival of a treatment that can slow the course of Alzheimer’s disease. With all this excitement, there are still many questions and challenges we need to address

Is the drug safe?

Although promising results are seen after the trial, there is a concern about the number of deaths. Moreover, whether the drug is safe to take, especially in people taking blood thinners.

Two people died after taking the drug during the trial based on the media reports. One of them was a 65-year-old woman who died because of a massive haemorrhage in the brain. Researchers link her demise to the drug. Whereas the other death was of an 80-year-old who was on blood thinners for his heart disease.

Moreover, other than these two deaths, the trail data shows that six patients treated with lecanemab suffered strokes.

However, Bigon and Eisai denied any of the risks linked with the trial. According to them, the deaths had no link with the treatment. Moreover, the number of deaths in the placebo group and lecanemab group was the same.

Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, Rob Howard commented on the research

Recent reports of two deaths from strokes, attributed to a side-effect of the drug, are concerning. The data published today indicate that six lecanemab-treated patients suffered strokes during the trial compared with two in the placebo group. Treatment, therefore, does carry risks, and in some rare cases this can be severe or life-threatening

He added,

I suspect that the lack of demonstrable clinical effectiveness will mean that lecanemab will not be taken up widely within healthcare systems around the World, although there will always be those whose heart rules their head

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Dr. Armash Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor's degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is skilled in general dentistry and is an experienced medical content writer. She also works as a Science Instructor for Little Medical School, which is a STEM-based learning program for kids. Her future plans are to work for the betterment of dentistry for the underprivileged in Pakistan, apply for postgraduation, and specialize in Paediatric Dentistry.


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