Alzheimer’s drug studied at Butler Hospital shows promise

A file photo of Butler Hospital's campus. (WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — An Alzheimer’s drug being studied at Butler Hospital’s Memory and Aging Program has been shown to slow down cognitive decline, the hospital announced on May 3.

The hospital, which is part of the ALZ-NET network of clinicians working to monitor such treatments, had previously been looking for participants for Alzheimer’s research.

The drug donanemab, which is being analyzed as part of the TRAILBLAZER-ALZ 2 Phase 3 study, showed a 35% slowing of clinical and functional decline, Eli Lily and Company said in a press release.

The drug works by targeting amyloid plaque build-up in the brain, which is tied to the disease.

The study also showed that participants on the drug showed no decline on the clinical dementia rating scale and showed less decline in the ability to do everyday tasks after 18 months compared to those on a placebo.

“Each study and every finding along the way has been a stepping stone leading up to this moment,” Founding Director of the Memory and Aging Program Dr. Stephen Salloway said. “We’re excited that this treatment is likely to provide not only a great new hope for people living with AD today but continued new opportunities to build on in the future.”

While the treatment shows promise, lowering amyloid plaque can also come with side effects, most notably temporary fluid shifts and swelling in the brain which can be fatal, Salloway said.

Patients and families need to weigh the potential benefits of donanemab against the risks, and providers need to carefully monitor patients to safely manage this potential side effect, he added.

Categories: Rhode Island