Lecanemab: Understanding the controversial new Alzheimer's drug

Is lecanemab worth the risk?

Lab research
(Image credit: TEK IMAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

There is some promising news in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. The makers of a new drug, lecanemab, announced that trial studies demonstrate it reduces the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients by 27 percent. The news "comes after many years of frustration and failure" by researchers looking to slow and reverse the disease, NPR reports.

But there is a downside: The trials also show lecanemab has "significant safety risks," The New York Times reports. Two patients who took the drug died after experiencing brain swelling and brain bleeding. "The benefit is real; so too are the risks," a University of Pennsylvania doctor told the newspaper. So is the drug worth those risks? How does it work? And what other Alzheimer's breakthroughs can we expect? Here's everything you need to know:

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Joel Mathis, The Week US

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who has spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His work also regularly appears in National Geographic, The Kansas City Star and Heatmap News. His awards include best online commentary at the Online News Association and (twice) at the City and Regional Magazine Association.