The treatment of Alzheimer's disease took a major step forward today as scientists unveiled a drug that appears to slow the progression of the disease.
Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia affect more than 40 million people around the world.
This number will increase to an estimated 75.6 million in 2030 as the population continues to age.
Existing drugs simply address the symptoms - and failure to deal with the.....
underlying causes means they quickly wear off, and the disease soon takes its devastating course.
In contrast, the experimental drug solanezumab tackles beta amyloid, the toxic protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer's, destroying vital connections between cells.
Hopes about solanezumab were dashed three years ago, when a large-scale trial appeared to show it was ineffective.
However, close analysis suggested there were some benefits if taken at a very early stage of the disease.
Patients with mild symptoms continued taking the drug for another two years, and US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, today unveiled highly anticipated trial results.
Patients with mild Alzheimer's disease who took solanezumab early in the course of their disease preserved more of their cognitive and functional ability, the company said.
The research, presented today at the Alzheimer's Association International conference, revealed the the promising results of studies into the use of solanezumab.
Results suggest that if given to patients early enough, the antibody therapy will be able to slow cognitive decline - by around 30 per cent.
Specifically, long-term analysis found that people with mild Alzheimer's disease, who have taken the drug for 3.5 years, show some benefits in cognition compared to those who have only taken it for two years.
The discovery was announced at the Alzheimer's Association International conference in Washington DC, which saw studies of three alternative antibody therapies presented.
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