The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not yet fully understood. However, extensive research has shed light on several factors contributing to its development, so we need to see ALL the data on Lilly’s new drug.
The primary characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits in the brain. Two types of proteins are primarily involved: beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Beta-amyloid plaques are formed from the buildup of beta-amyloid protein fragments, while tau tangles result from the abnormal accumulation of tau protein within brain cells.
Genetics is thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain gene mutations, such as those in the genes for amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 (PSEN1), and presenilin 2 (PSEN2), have been linked to early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. However, these genetic mutations account for only a small percentage of cases.
Age is the most significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The prevalence of the disease increases with advancing age, although it is not a normal part of aging.
Other factors that have been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease include a history of head trauma, cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes), and lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical inactivity, and poor diet.
Although the exact cause of Alzheimer’s remains elusive, ongoing research continues to advance our understanding of the disease. Multiple theories and hypotheses are being explored, including inflammation, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and impaired clearance of protein deposits from the brain.
The public and especially caregivers, are desperate for Alzheimer’s treatment, but they need to understand the risks and success rate of new therapies. Donanemab, an Alzheimer’s drug candidate produced by Eli Lilly, showed that it could slow cognitive decline by 35% in the company’s new Phase 3 study. Still, according to the drug company, there are some safety risks – exemplified by two deaths during the trial that were attributed to brain swelling.
Lilly said Donanemab met all goals of the trial of the company said. It slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s by 35% compared to a placebo in 1,182 people with an early-stage disease whose brains had deposits of two essential Alzheimer’s proteins, beta-amyloid as well as intermediate levels of tau, a protein linked with disease progression and brain cell death.
The study also evaluated the drug in 552 patients with high levels of tau and found that when both groups were combined, donanemab slowed progression by 29% based on a commonly used scale of dementia progression known as the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR-SB) but despite this encouraging news doctors still want more data.
The other issue that’s coming into play is that Alzheimer’s support organizations want treatments despite the potential risks. Once again, we’re finding that the media and social media are driving up potential approval and demand.
I understand how damaging Alzheimer’s can be to families but they deserve to fully understand the risks.