Wendy Mitchell died yesterday, 22 February 2024 at the age of 68 years after living with early onset Alzheimer disease for more than 10 years.
She became a best-selling writer after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s whilst 58 years old and working for the NHS. She claimed “Dementia is a cruel disease that plays tricks on your very existence.”
For her, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was the ultimate challenge. She rose to this, by publishing her acclaimed memoir "Somebody I Used To Know" in 2018 and 4 years later "What I Wish I Knew About Dementia".
Our condolences are extended to her daughters Sarah and Gemma.
23 February 2024
In memoriam : Mrs Wendy Mitchell
12 February 2024
Major advances in new drug therapies
The connection between amyloid and Alzheimer's disease was first proposed by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, in 1906, when examining the brain tissue of a deceased patient who had in life exhibited symptoms of memory loss, confusion, and cognitive decline. Dr. Alzheimer observed abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of protein, which are referred to as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, respectively.
Subsequent research as confirmed the role of amyloid beta protein in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease leading to the development of amyloid targeting therapies aimed at slowing or halting the progression of the disease.
DONANEMAB and LECANEMAB are drugs developed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease both targeting the amyloid beta protein which forms plaques in the brain – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s pathology. Both drugs have been subject of clinical trials with the recent BBC Panorama programme providing a review of the recent results. Here we provide our assessment of the benefits and risks of both drugs drawn from data currently available:
Benefits of Donanemab
Amyloid reduction: Donanemab targets and appears to reduce amyloid deposits in the brain.
Potential Cognitive Benefits: Clinical trials have shown some slowing down cognitive decline in individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
Possible Disease Modification: By targeting the underlying cause
of the disease, Donanemab may have the potential to modify its course.
Risks of Donanemab
Side Effects: Common side effects observed in clinical trials include ARIA (amyloid-related imaging abnormalities) which can manifest as swelling or bleeding in the brain.
Limited Data: While early trial results are promising, more extensive studies are needed to fully understand the long-term efficacy and safety of Donanemab.
Cost and Accessibility: If approved, cost and accessibility could be significant barriers to accessing this treatment for some patients.
Benefits of Lecanemab
Amyloid reduction: Similar to Donanemab, Lecanemab targets amyloid plaques in the brain, potentially slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Potential Cognitive Benefits: Some clinical trials have suggested some cognitive benefits.
Possible Disease Modification: By targeting amyloid, Lecanemab may address the underlying pathology of Alzheimer's disease, potentially modifying its course.
Risks of Lecanemab
Side Effects: Like Donanemab, Lecanemab can cause ARIA, which may lead to complications such as brain swelling or bleeding.
Limited Data: While early trial results are promising, more extensive studies are needed to fully understand the long-term efficacy and safety of Lecanemab.
Cost and Accessibility: Cost and availability could be barriers to access for some patients, particularly considering the need for ongoing treatment.
27 February 2023
Baroness Betty Boothroyd (1929-2023), R.I.P.
The trustees are saddened to hear of the passing of Baroness Betty Boothroyd,
first woman speaker of the House of Commons,
and long term champion and supporter of research into Alzheimer's disease.
(official portrait (c) Chris McAndrew)
18 February 2023
Second major feature on the Campaign for Alzheimer's Research published in the Western Mail
Download the published article PDF here
6 December 2022
Anti-Amyloid-beta monoclonal antibodies as an immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s disease – a pitfall or a promise
Anti-Amyloid-beta monoclonal antibodies as an immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s disease was reviewed by Christopher van Dyck in the academic publication Biological Psychiatry (Biol. Psychiatry 2018 Feb 15:83(4) 311-319) back in 2018. He described the “pitfalls and promises” of several monoclonal antibodies being scrutinised for their efficacy in binding the aberrant amyloid-beta protein seen in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The hypothesis being that once bound to the antibody, amyloid-beta would cease to play a role in the cognitive decline intrinsic to this neurodegenerative disease. He described the results as being “fraught with failure and confusing”.
On 29 November 2022, CH Van Dyke and colleagues published in the The New England Journal of Medicine (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa 2212948) the results of an 18 month, multicentre clinical trial of the
monoclonal antibody Lecanemab, which like the others reported in the 2018 paper, binds amyloid beta.
Analysis of several hundred Alzheimer’s disease patients and controls treated with either Lecanemab or a placebo drug, demonstrated reduction in the markers for amyloid in the early Alzheimer’s disease patient group. Patients also demonstrated moderately less decline than placebo controls when performing tests to measure cognitive performance at 18 months post drug receipt. Nevertheless, moderate benefit was associated with severe adverse effects. The authors acknowledge that trials exceeding 18 months are required to determine the efficacy and safety of Lecanemab in early Alzheimer’s disease. In the event a license is sought for use of the drug in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency will need to be convinced that the benefits
significantly outweigh the risks.
Readers may recall that in 1989, the cholinesterase inhibitor, Tacrine was licensed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (marketed as Cognex). The benefit was limited and the drug was withdrawn due to safety concerns.
The identification of the aberrant proteins of tau fibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients and their role in dementia has been established for decades yet little progress has been made with developing safe and efficacious treatments. The Campaign for Alzheimer’s Research, through its funding of UK and European collaborative research platforms, facilitates translation of laboratory research into viable treatments.
Your financial support is vital to this continued endeavour.
6 december 2022