Looking past the aducanumab approval fiasco: 70 Alzheimer’s drugs are in the clinical pipeline

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Credit: Alzheimer's San Diego
Credit: Alzheimer's San Diego

Researchers and drug makers have labored fruitlessly for decades to develop treatments that can slow [Alzheimer’s] disease’s progression. More than 100 experimental drugs have failed in clinical trials, but researchers may be on the cusp of a breakthrough.

Biogen’s newly approved monoclonal antibody drug, aducanumab (known by the brand name, Aduhelm), is the first treatment that has shown evidence in clinical trials of reducing amyloid plaque in the brain and slowing cognitive decline. It isn’t a cure. But it and similar treatments could transform the disease from a death sentence to a manageable condition like diabetes or multiple sclerosis.

“We are now about to take the journey toward transforming Alzheimer’s disease from a terminal disease as we know it to a chronic disease,” Cleveland Clinic neurologist Marwan Sabbagh said in a NeurologyLive video cast.

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More than 70 Alzheimer’s drugs are in the clinical pipeline, many employing different strategies. Neurologists like Dr. Sabbagh believe that ultimately a combination of therapies will be needed to hold off or—dare to dream—reverse Alzheimer’s. “I think we are now where MS was when I graduated from medical school 29 years ago,” he said.

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