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Lecanemab trial finds slight slowing of cognitive decline, but clinical benefits are uncertain

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 01 December 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2912
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

The monoclonal antibody lecanemab may slow cognitive decline in people with early Alzheimer’s disease but is associated with higher rates of serious adverse events, trial results have shown.

Researchers from the US, UK, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Germany, and France conducted a double blind, phase III trial in which 898 people aged 50-90 with early Alzheimer’s disease received lecanemab, while 897 received a placebo. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine,1 showed that lecanemab, which is administered by intravenous infusion every two weeks, reduced markers of amyloid and resulted in moderately less decline on measures of cognition and function than placebo after 18 months.

The drug’s joint developers, Eisai and Biogen, said lecanemab works by binding to and eliminating toxic amyloid β aggregates thought to contribute to neurodegenerative processes in Alzheimer’s disease.

However, experts have emphasised that although the findings are encouraging it is not yet known whether the drug will make a real world difference to people who have the condition.

UK Dementia Research Institute programme lead Tara Spires-Jones, deputy director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said, “While this is good news from a …

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