Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Donanemab: A promising drug for Alzheimer’s


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Donanemab

Mains level: Not Much


Central Idea

  • Donanemab, a drug in trials has shown significant potential in slowing cognitive decline in individuals with early Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and irreversible neurological disorder.
  • Beta-amyloid, a protein that is crucial for brain function, turns toxic in Alzheimer’s patients, forming clumps that disrupt brain cell connections, leading to cognitive issues like memory loss.
  • These protein deposits disrupt communication between neurons, leading to their deterioration and death.
  • Early signs include forgetfulness, difficulty finding words, problem-solving challenges, confusion, and disorientation.
  • The exact cause of Alzheimer’s is not fully understood but is believed to involve genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
  • Family history, genetic mutations, head injuries, cardiovascular disease, and certain lifestyle factors are also risk factors.

Donanemab: An antedote

  • Development: Donanemab is a drug developed by Eli Lilly and aims to treat individuals with early Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Targeting Amyloid Plaques: The drug targets a common hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease: amyloid plaques in the brain.

Breakthrough in Slowing Cognitive Decline

  • Alarming Burden: With an estimated 14 million cases of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, expected in India by 2050, the need for effective treatments is urgent.
  • Phase III Trial: In a phase III trial, Donanemab demonstrated promising results, slowing cognitive decline by 35% compared to a placebo.
  • Significance: This marks a significant milestone in Alzheimer’s research, as it is the second drug, within a year, to show effectiveness in checking cognitive decline in early-stage Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Limitations: It is essential to note that Donanemab and the previous drug do not stop or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. However, slowing cognitive decline can significantly improve the quality of life for affected individuals and their families.

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