The groundbreaking drug donanemab has shown remarkable promise in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. In a global trial, the drug successfully slowed cognitive decline in individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s by targeting and clearing the disease-associated protein buildup in the brain. While not a cure, the published results in JAMA have generated optimism among medical professionals and charities, ushering in a new era of Alzheimer’s treatment. The UK’s drug watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has commenced its assessment of donanemab for potential use within the National Health Service (NHS). The drug has demonstrated the ability to slow disease progression by approximately one-third, allowing patients to maintain their day-to-day activities and quality of life. However, donanemab is not without risks, as brain swelling was observed as a common side effect during the trials. Despite this, the positive impact of the drug on patients’ lives marks a significant milestone in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

While donanemab and similar drugs show promise, they are just the beginning of a new wave of potential treatments for Alzheimer’s. Efforts are underway to ensure a timely diagnosis, as only a small percentage of patients currently receive the specialist investigations necessary to be eligible for these treatments. The NHS will also need to establish the infrastructure and capacity to administer the regular infusions and monitoring required by these emerging therapies. Nevertheless, the results of the donanemab trial offer hope for the millions of individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease and highlight the progress being made in the quest to combat this devastating condition.