On January 6, the Food and Drug Administration -the US drug authority- gave its approval for the marketing of a new treatment based on monoclonal antibodies: lecanemab. This drug, which slows the cognitive deterioration of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, in a mild phase.
For decades it was considered an incurable pathology and difficult to diagnose. Dementia and cognitive disorders caused by Alzheimer’s disease have undoubtedly been one of the main concerns of science in recent years. Unfortunately, researchers have so far failed to design any treatment to fight the disease.
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In this context, the green light from the US anti-drug authorities in 2021 for the controversy aducanumab and at the beginning of the year for the circulation of lecanemab -a monoclonal antibody marketed by the Eisai and Biogen laboratories- sounds like a true message of hope for the 50 million people who suffer from this disease in the world. This latest drug is one of the first in the world to cause a slowdown in cognitive decline. If the announcement aroused a certain enthusiasm, the communauté scientifique elle, veut rester prudent : «On this occasion of the debut of the adventure, comment Philippe Amouyel, director general of the Alzheimer Foundation and hospital practitioner at the CHU de Lille, after Midi office. What we have here is a treatment that does not allow patients to recover their cognitive abilities. But simply to slow down cognitive deterioration by 27% in people affected in a mild stage of Alzheimer’s disease”, tempers the doctor.
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In addition to the cost of the treatment -26,000 euros per year for a person of average weight- potentially serious adverse effects (cerebral hemorrhage, edema) have been observed in some patients who have benefited from this treatment during the trial phases. .clinics. “The effects of this treatment are not clinically significant, but it is still very symbolic,” says Bruno Dubois, director of the Institute for Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease and a member of the Academy of Medicine. He assures us that the path we are taking is the right one. Now that we’ve got our foot in the door, we’ll have to hurry to get more satisfying clinical results.”
A signal for the pharmaceutical sector
In fact, the commercialization of this new treatment could encourage the pharmaceutical industry, currently immersed in the production of treatments linked to oncology and virology, to become more interested in the subject: “It is a signal that is sent to companies in the sector : it will revive the interest of pharmaceutical groups in the production of treatments against this neurodegenerative disease”, says Philippe Amouyel, such as the American giant Lilly, which will announce this year the results of a trial carried out with another monoclonal antibody, the donanemab.
A simple blood test could diagnose Alzheimer’s disease
In the field of prevention, the diagnosis of the disease is also a delicate task for researchers, to say the least: “The disease actually appears 20 or 30 years before the appearance of the first symptoms”, laments the general director of Alzheimer’s Foundation. . Notable advances in this field could well see the light of day in 2023. This is the case, for example, in Japan, where the company Sysmex Corporation now offers a diagnostic kit based on a simple blood test. The system developed makes it possible to measure the level of accumulation of the amyloid beta protein, one of the main biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. And like many pathologies, the sooner the disease is diagnosed, the easier it will be to treat…
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