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New Drug Slows Alzheimer's, but Has Catches

A new drug with the first clear evidence of slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease is soon to hit the market. Lecanemab, being sold under the brand name Leqembi, is a drug made to combat the early stages of Alzheimer’s, however, is not a cure. It is administered via IV every two weeks, and can slow the crippling disease by approximately five months.

This new FDA approved drug, invented by Japan’s Eisai and its American partner Biogen, is designed to target and clear away a sticky protein called beta-amyloid. This protein builds up into brain-clogging plaque, which is a key hallmark of Alzheimer’s. It also targets a slightly different form of the amyloid, possibly explaining why it works so well when other amyloid-targeting drugs did not.

In Eisai’s 18 month medical study of 1,800 participants, Leqembi appeared to delay the progression of early-stage Alzheimer’s for about five months. Those who had the drug still worsened, but not as rapidly as those given a placebo version.