Company officials said that 161 people who got the highest dose every two weeks for 18 months did significantly better than 245 people who were given a dummy treatment. The study was too small to be definitive and the results need to be confirmed with more work, dementia experts said. “A 30 percent slowing of decline is something I would want my family member to have,” and the drug’s ability to clear the brain plaques “looks pretty amazing,” said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, whose international conference in Chicago featured the results.
About 50 million people worldwide have dementia, Alzheimer’s is the most common type and there is no cure. The new drug is aimed at people with early Alzheimer’s, and works at an earlier step in the formation of the sticky brain plaques. After one year trial, the companies said the drug didn’t meet statistical goals. But after 18 months, they saw a benefit in the highest dose group. On one traditional measure of thinking skills, those at the highest dose declined 47 percent less than people given a dummy treatment. “That’s a very hopeful outcome. It means we may be on the right track,” Dr. Stephen Salloway, neurology chief at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, declared. Further studies will be conducted.