After months of disappointing trials for budding Alzheimer’s therapies, it appears as though researchers may have finally found the key to slowing mental decline for people in the mild stages of the disease, according to study results presented at the American Neurological Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting.
Though it failed to produce positive results in late-stage trials conducted in August, solanezumab, an experimental drug created by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, appears to effectively hinder the progress of Alzheimer’s in people who have less advanced forms of the disease.
People in the mild stages of Alzheimer’s who took solanezumab experienced a 34 percent improvement in cognitive skills such as memory and spatial orientation, according to an independent analysis of Lilly’s data, conducted by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS)—an academic research group National Institute on Aging.
The drug did not appear to provide significant benefits when it came to helping those same people maintain their ability to perform day-to-day tasks, such as cleaning and running errands.
This means that current Alzheimer’s sufferers aren’t likely to have access to the medication anytime soon. In order for the FDA to give a therapy the green light, it must successfully help people with both cognitive functioning and daily task performance.
Still, experts feel the results of the study represent a promising milestone.
“Encouraging,” was the word Rachelle Doody, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Neurology from Baylor College of Medicine and ADCS committee member, used to describe the outcome of the analysis. “These results represent an important step for the medical, academic, and scientific communities,” she said in a press release.
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