Disability news

Two people die from Alzheimer’s drug trial

a rack of test tubes containing  lecanemab

A new drug which slows down the progression of Alzheimers is thought to be linked to the death of a 65-year-old woman.

According to an unpublished case report shared with Science the woman is the second person to die after she took the antibody called lecanemab.

The woman suffered a stroke as well as swelling and bleeding previously seen with similar antibodies, which bind to and remove forms of amyloid-beta, which is believed to be the cause of Alzhiemier’s.

After doctors diagnosed her stroke at Northwestern University Medical Center, Chicago, she was prescribed the clot-busting medication tissue plasminogen (tPA).

But the bleeding continued through the brain; the woman died a few days later.

Rudolph Castellani, a Northwestern neuropathologist studying Alzheimer’s conducted an autopsy which found the woman’s death, just like the other patient who died during the trial, had amyloid deposits surrounding the brain’s blood vessels.

The report concluded her brain haemorrhage was triggered after the blood vessels became frail as a result of biweekly intakes of lecanemab.

It was found that blood vessels burst if they are exposed to tPA.

“It was a one-two punch,” Castellani told Science*. “There’s zero doubt in my mind that this is a treatment-caused illness and death. If the patient hadn’t been on lecanemab she would be alive today.”

A 30-page consent form for trial participants, obtained by Science, states: “You may continue with these medications, but you and the investigator should discuss the risk of bleeding since medications which prevent clots and [lecanemab] are both associated with a slight risk of bleeding in the brain.”

But the form does not give any direct reference to tPA.

Details of the woman’s death were shared with Great Lakes Clinical Trials, the research organisation that administered lecanemab to the woman.

The company’s principal and physician Jeffrey Ross said he had made Eisai Co., the Japanese organisation that developed lecanemab.

Eisai declined to comment on the woman’s death.

In a statement they said: “All the available safety information indicates that lecanemab therapy is not associated with an increased risk of death overall or from any specific cause.”

Today, November 30, it was made public how lecanemb can slow down decline in memory, but the deaths associated with the drug remain under the radar.

*Castellani says his comments reflect personal views and were not reviewed or approved by Northwestern.

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