Caution Urged as Alzheimer’s Drugs Show Risks in Cognitive Decline Treatment


Scientists have raised concerns over drugs hailed as potential game-changers in Alzheimer’s disease treatment, cautioning that associated risks may outweigh benefits, according to UK media reports.

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UK regulators are set to decide on the approval of lecanemab, approved in the US last year, and donanemab, awaiting approval, next week. These drugs, designed to slow cognitive decline by clearing amyloid protein, have been linked to brain shrinkage and side effects classified as “amyloid-related imaging abnormalities” (ARIA), including brain swelling and bleeding in up to one-third of patients.

Severe side effects, including fatalities, have been reported in approximately 1% of patients. Lecanemab has a “black-box warning” indicating potential serious adverse events, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Professor Rob Howard from the University College of London Institute of Mental Health likened ARIA-related MRI scans to those of patients with strokes or traumatic brain injuries. Imaging data reveals patients receiving the drugs may lose brain volume.

Dr. Madhav Thambisetty from the US National Institute on Aging reported brain volume loss of up to three teaspoons in patients receiving the largest dose. Despite manufacturers claiming a 27% (lecanemab) and 35% (donanemab) potential decline in cognitive decline compared to a placebo, the improvement on the Alzheimer’s symptom assessment scale is minimal.

Brain shrinkage, indicative of Alzheimer’s, raises questions about the effectiveness of treatments potentially worsening underlying pathology. Some patients with ARIA experienced cognitive deterioration five times that of unmedicated Alzheimer’s patients, and there were cases of severe adverse events, including a patient in the lecanemab trial who died from a 7cm brain hemorrhage.

Aducanumab, another drug hailed as a miracle treatment in 2021, is expected to be discontinued by its manufacturer this year due to brain swelling and bleeding risks revealed in clinical data.

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Emman Tochi
Emman Tochi
Emma Tochi is Naija247news Media Northern Bureau Chief, he's based in FCT Abuja. He overseas the northern operations of this business media

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