"Momentous" Alzheimer's breakthrough increases the need for improved screening and monitoring.
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
Today’s headline news on the BBC highlights the "momentous" research breakthrough, "shows a new era of drugs to treat Alzheimer's - the most common form of dementia - is possible.”
The breakthrough concerns the medicine, lecanemab – developed by the pharmaceutical companies Eisai and Biogen. In a large-scale clinical trial of 1,795 volunteers with early-stage Alzheimer's, in which infusions of lecanemab were given every fortnight, lecanemab was shown to result in moderately less decline on measures of cognition and function than placebo at 18 months.
Among other publications covering the story, the BBC's article highlights, “The results, presented at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer's Disease conference in San Francisco and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, are not a miracle cure. The disease continued to rob people of their brain power, but that decline was slowed by around a quarter over the course of the 18 months of treatment.”
However, within the article, several doctors echo a similar message to that of Prof Tara Spires-Jones, from the University of Edinburgh, who commented that it was positive news "because we've had a 100% failure rate for a long time". She further confirms that "even though it is not dramatic, I would take it".
Crucially the BBC article highlights one other important challenge to the treatment of Alzheimer’s, the fact that as the drug works in the early stages of the disease, “most would miss out without a revolution in spotting it.”
At Occuity, that is exactly what we intend to deliver exactly that, a revolution in Alzheimer’s screening.
Targeting Amyloid Plaques
Both our prospective screening device and lecanemab work by targeting amyloid plaques.
Amyloid is a protein that clumps together in the spaces between neurons in the brain and forms distinctive plaques. Lecanemab attacks the “sticky gunge” - called beta amyloid - that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that slowly robs people of their lives, so of course, any development to slow down its progression is to be welcomed. Lecanemab has been shown to have the greatest effect in the early stages, so the need to assess the presence of and the level of amyloids prior to starting the treatment is essential. Currently, this is done via a PET scan, which has risks, or via a lumbar puncture which is both invasive and risky and, as a clinical procedure, expensive and time-consuming.
Our goal here at Occuity is to make it much easier to assess the presence of and the level of amyloid plaques non-invasively via a quick, simple, and pain-free scan of the eye. This could be done in non-clinical settings such as pharmacies, opticians, and domiciliary care environments, making it easier to identify the people who could really benefit from lecanemab, and identifying them much earlier.
In addition to screening, there is a further need to monitor the efficacy of the drug in slowing the progression of the plaques. This opens up the need for a monitoring solution, something we believe our technology could also deliver.
As researchers develop ever more ground-breaking treatment results, the need for effective screening and monitoring will only increase.
Occuity is Crowdfunding
Occuity is currently crowdfunding, if you’d like to join Occuity on our journey to develop revolutionary non-invasive screening and monitoring devices for conditions such as diabetes and Alzheimer's, click the link below to find out more.