Front Burner

New Alzheimer's drug met with hope and caution

Two pharmaceutical companies have published the results of an 18-month human trial for their new Alzheimer’s drug, lecanemab. The results are promising, but there is still plenty of cause for caution, as the drug’s cost, side effects and overall effectiveness remain uncertain.
A brain scan is seen on a computer monitor.
A picture of a human brain taken by a positron emission tomography scanner, also called a PET scan, is seen on a screen on Jan. 9, 2019. This week, two pharmaceutical companies released the results of their 18-month human trial for a new Alzheimer's drug, lecanemab. (Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images)

Two pharmaceutical companies, Eisai and Biogen, have published the results of an 18-month human trial for their new drug, lecanemab. It's meant to treat people with early stages of Alzheimer's disease, a devastating condition that causes the majority of dementia cases and affects hundreds of thousands of Canadians. 

The results of the lecanemab trial are promising — the condition of people who were given the drug declined at a rate that was 27 per cent slower than those who were given a placebo. It's a glimmer of hope for those facing Alzheimer's disease, but questions about the new drug remain.

Today, Mike Crawley, a reporter with CBC's health unit, is here to explain how the drug works and what it may mean for people living with Alzheimer's disease.