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Child Psychiatrist /Adult Psychiatrist

Experimental Drug Slows Progression of Alzheimer Disease in Patients With Mild Impairment by 60%

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

Trial results underscore the importance of early diagnosis and treatment in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

 A woman is putting pieces of a puzzle on a table.

An experimental drug for the treatment of Alzheimer disease slows the progression of the disease in patients with mild impairment by 60%, according to new trial data.

In the trial, which involved more than 1700 patients, the drug, donanemab, slowed the progression of problems with thinking and memory by around a third. However, the rate rose to 60% when the drug was started in patients who were only mildly impaired. The results were less robust in patients who were older and in the later stages of Alzheimer disease. This shows that “earlier detection and diagnosis can really change the trajectory of this disease,” according to Anne White, president of neuroscience at Eli Lilly and Company, developer of donanemab.1

Like Leqembi (lecanemab)—which received traditional approval by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Alzheimer disease on July 62—donanemab is an intravenous antibody that was designed to eliminate deposits of beta amyloid from the brain. Lilly has announced that it expects the FDA to decide whether to grant donanemab approval by the end of 2023.1


1. Beasley D. Lilly drug slows Alzheimer’s by 60% for mildly impaired patients in trial. Reuters. July 17, 2023. Accessed July 17, 2023.

2. FDA converts novel Alzheimer’s disease treatment to traditional approval. US Food and Drug Administration. News release. July 6, 2023. Accessed July 17, 2023.

New Directions for Alzheimer and Dementia Treatment

Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD

Decades of efforts to find effective medical treatments for dementia and Alzheimers disease have largely failed. Would a public health approach be more effective?

 A series of diagrams showing the effects of neurogenesis on the brain.

Medical approaches to treating dementia and Alzheimer disease have been mostly unsuccessful. In this Mental Health Minute, Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD, recommends that clinicians go beyond biomedical approaches. Instead, he advocates a suite of public health approaches, based on the research in his latest book, American Dementia: Brain Health in an Unhealthy Society.

Dr Whitehouse is professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University, and professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Along with Daniel R. George, PhD, MSc, of American Dementia: Brain Health in an Unhealthy Society.

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