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SAN FRANCISCO — A closely watched new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease held up to scrutiny in a detailed scientific presentation Tuesday, as its developers, partners Eisai and Biogen, begin the lengthy process of turning this medicine into what they hope could be a groundbreaking therapy.

The drug, lecanemab, slowed the cognitive and functional decline of patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s by 27% relative to placebo in a roughly 2,000-volunteer clinical trial. In the 18-month study, Eisai’s drug also dramatically reduced patients’ levels of beta-amyloid, a toxic protein in the brain thought to drive the advance of Alzheimer’s, and the drug showed statistically significant benefits on three backup measures of cognition and function.


Experts said Eisai’s presentation, delivered over the course of 75 minutes at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference here, helped dispel concerns that lecanemab’s success, first disclosed in a September press release, was a mirage. Eisai also maintained that the treatment was safe, saying that the recently reported deaths of two patients receiving lecanemab alongside blood thinners could not be directly attributed to the therapy.

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