The drug offers new hope for Alzheimer’s patients Credit:Alamy The Phase 1 trial, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, recruited just 32 patients and was chiefly concerned with dosage and safety. However the trial showed that amyloid was reduced nearly entirely in some cases, and the effect increased with higher doses.Dr Clare Walton, research manager at the charity Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Amyloid plaques are a key hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and most recent efforts to find new dementia treatments focus on reducing the production of amyloid or clearing plaques out of the brain.”This study describes a new drug that reduces the production of amyloid in people with dementia and, importantly, it appears to be safer than similar drugs that have come before. This finding has paved the way for much larger clinical trials that are currently under way, and we very much look forward to the results of these in the coming years.” A pioneering new drug has been shown to clear away sticky clumps of plaque in the brain, thought to be a primary cause of Alzheimer’s, and is now in final trials.The drug, verubecestat, is one of a number being tested by pharmaceutical companies in a race for the first treatment that can halt or reverse the disease.Results from a small Phase 1 study confirm that verubecestat can reduce levels of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that accumulates in sticky deposits or “plaques” in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers by up to 94 per cent.Most importantly, it appeared to produce no severe side effects. Earlier experiments with drugs that work the same way, by targeting an enzyme linked to amyloid build-up, were abandoned when they were found to cause liver and nerve damage.It is the first of its kind to make it to phase 3 trials, which will give a conclusive indication about whether it is effective.Dr Rosa Sancho, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It has been over a decade since a new drug was licensed for the treatment of dementia, so we urgently need new medicines that can provide real benefit for people living with dementia.” Currently there are medicines available that can alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease, but nothing capable of halting or slowing its progress. That situation may be about to change if drugs such as verubecestat pass the stiff tests of safety and effectiveness imposed by medicine regulators. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.