A new drug can slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients, but it can have serious side effects, according to experts.

The trial data showed that lecanemab slowed cognitive decline by 27 percent over the course of 18 months.

The complete trial data, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, fleshes out those findings but also raises concern about the incidence of adverse effects.

The number of patients who experienced brain bleeds after being administered the drug was higher than those who received a placebo.

The group that took the drug experienced brain swelling at a higher rate than the group that took the placebo.

Both arms of the trial of the drug had the same rate of deaths.

Bart De Strooper is the director of the UK Dementia Research Institute.

He said that this was the first drug that provided a real treatment option for people with Alzheimer's.

It can be expected that the drug will become more apparent if it is administered over a longer time period.

Longer trials needed

Alzheimer's disease is caused by the build up of tangles and plaques in the brain.

Lecanemab works by targeting amyloid, but also has beneficial effects on other hallmarks of Alzheimer's.

The trial involved almost 1800 people who were divided into two groups, one given the drug and the other a placebo.

They were assessed on a scale for Alzheimer's patients that measured cognitive and function, as well as for changes in amyloid levels and other indicators.

There isn't an accepted definition of clinically meaningful effects in the cognitive test they used.

The reduction in decline may not make a big difference to people living with dementia. Longer trials are needed to be certain that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The number of people who could potentially benefit from the treatment is limited by the fact that it only targets those in the early stages of the disease.

As Alzheimer's is not always caught quickly, an update in early diagnosis is needed to make sure more people benefit.

"This isn't the end of the journey for lecanemab - it's being explored in further trials to see how well it works over a longer period of time," said Richard Oakley, associate director of research at the Alzheimer's Society

The safety of drugs is important, but they will be closely looked at when decisions are made about whether or not to approve lecanemab.

The approval of the Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm by the US Food and Drug Administration resulted in three high-level resignations.

Agence France- Presse.