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Behind the headlines: what’s the real story for LMTX?

Dr Laura PhippsKirsty MaraisClaire LucasRobin BrisbourneKaty StubbsEd PinchesGlyn Morris

The UK public woke up this morning to a series of headlines about phase III trial results of a potential Alzheimer’s drug called LMTX (also known as LMTM). The Times (£) placed their report on the front page, while the story was also reported by the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, BBC Online and more. Some of the headlines talked of a drug that could ‘halt’, ‘reverse’ or ‘put the brake on’ the disease – language that is undeniably optimistic about the treatment’s potential.

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But when you explore the coverage on the other side of the Atlantic, the verdict has been much more negative. The Wall Street Journal declared that the drug had failed in its clinical trial, the New York Times talks of LMTX ‘faltering’, while the Boston Globe calls the trial a ‘flop’.

Readers would be forgiven for assuming these were reports of two completely different trials, and of course people affected by Alzheimer’s will be wanting to know whether this trial was really a success – already this morning we have seen an increase in enquiries to our Dementia Research Infoline, some of them prompted by the media coverage. So what’s the real story?

Mixed results, and a possible silver lining

Our Science News team blogged yesterday about the trial, which was reported at a major dementia research conference in Toronto, and our spokespeople have also been helping to explain the results on broadcast media this morning. As their report shows, the truth is that the trial had rather mixed results – but overall, this drug did not show any slowing of symptoms in the overall study population when compared to people who were taking a very low dose of the treatment, which was used as a placebo.

The positive headlines have come from further analysis of the data which showed that the treatment may have had an effect in a small subset of the people on the trial. Of the 891 people enrolled on the trial, most were also taking treatments that have already been approved to help with the symptoms of the disease – medications such as donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine or memantine. But 15% of them were only taking the trial drug or a placebo – and it was among this group that the researchers noticed a difference.

As our original report points out, the numbers in this group were very small. By the end of the study just 51 people were taking LMTX as a ‘monotherapy’, with no other treatment. It’s also not clear why the effect was only seen in this group – the researchers have not been able to explain why existing treatments might prevent LMTX from working, but equally, there could be another reason relating to the way the trial was run that might explain the observation. To be sure of that, we’ll need to see studies of LMTX as a monotherapy in much bigger groups of people.

Most of the news reports that focused on this possible silver lining did explain that the effect was only seen in a very small group of the people on the study – though this may not have been clear from some of the headlines people have seen today. At Alzheimer’s Research UK we believe that there will be major breakthroughs and certainly these results may be a step in the right direction, but we also need to be careful about how these are communicated. More than ever, there is reason to be hopeful about progress in dementia research – if you’d like to find out about the research taking place at Alzheimer’s Research UK and elsewhere, you can check out our news pages, read the latest news on our blog or contact our Dementia Research Infoline.

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15 Responses to Behind the headlines: what’s the real story for LMTX?

  1. Avatar
    Sandra Lewis 28 July 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    Such a cruel disease ,we must live in hope

  2. Avatar
    Mick NAISBITT 28 July 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    As usual, do not believe anything you read in the Press.

    • Avatar
      prof.raymond levy 29 July 2016 at 12:27 pm #

      The press is not responsible.The research workers involved are by hyping up the results of a negative trial.Retrosceptive massaging of results for subgroups is not an acceptable way of reanalysing results particularly when the subgroup is unsual and a positive prediction has not been made.

      • Avatar
        John Breitner 3 August 2016 at 2:16 am #

        Spot on! Might one also mention the commercial interests in this trial? How wonderful to see that my old friend and teacher Raymond Levy is still in there bowling. May I recommend also a television piece from John Oliver’s program last Sunday evening?

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    Jenny Soothill 28 July 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    Keep working!

    Please include me if appropriate.

    • ARUK Editor
      ARUK Editor 29 July 2016 at 8:32 am #

      If you are interested in getting involved in research, there are lots of dementia studies recruiting through a nationwide research register called Join Dementia Research. This service is designed to match people to appropriate research studies, and anyone, with or without dementia, can register their interest as a volunteer. The research studies available are happening all across the UK and can range from doing memory tests to having brain scans, or even taking part in drug trials. You can find out more about this service on our website,

      http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/helpful-information/getting-involved-in-research/, or if you prefer, you can register over the telephone by calling our Dementia Research Infoline on 0300 111 5 111.

  4. Avatar
    Cheryl Prax 28 July 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    It seems to suggest to me that you are better off taking this new drug or a placebo (nothing) than you are taking the old treatments. In short the old treatments are making you worse!
    NB I have not looked into this fully – just judged on the above statements.

  5. Avatar
    Owen Bodie 28 July 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    My dad died of Alzheimer’s related illnesses. I must admit and feel shameful about it, I was relieved. At the end he was frightened of his own shadow. Terrified about just about anything that moved. I did love him, but I hated what it turned him into. I hope this drug does turn out to be the answer. At the moment Alzheimer’s is the worst disease anyone can get. It’s worse than cancer because up til now it’s been 100% irreversible and a life that’s just not worth living. Deaths inevitable.
    My Mum’s got it too now. She can’t walk, talk, can’t understand anything at all, and just sits in a chair staring at the wall for 10 hours a day. The other 14 hours are spent in bed. I reckon the new drug’s too late for her, but if it works it’s better than inventing the wheel.
    I also worry a lot that I’m going to get it, because both of my parents have. Just pray it does work?

    • Avatar
      Christine dunworth 29 July 2016 at 6:37 am #

      Feel so sad for you love.hupe you don’t get it.x

    • Avatar
      Coral 29 July 2016 at 8:33 am #

      Be strong research looks helpful, and thank you for sharing your story. We need more caters and money to support these people to work with dementia patients

    • Avatar
      kay Hayes 2 August 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      I totally empathize with you. My husband was diagnosed in 2013 with alzhiemers, I think he is now in the middle stages (65 years old). He has very little speech left and is becoming increasingly more and more reliant on my for washing, shaving etc. My whole world is now focused on making sure he has the best quality of life for what ever time he has left. Lets hope they find a cure pretty quickly. I am only 55 I dread to think of the future.

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      Aida Dahbour 5 December 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      Sorry to hear that about your parents, I hope you don’t get it. I am dealing with my husband for three
      Years now, it’s horrible disease.

  6. Avatar
    Charles Wilkinson 28 July 2016 at 9:50 pm #

    Nonetheless this ‘news’ is encouraging.

  7. Avatar
    mo berri 29 July 2016 at 12:20 am #

    My pop Iost him last year mixd type alzhimers combined dementia , memotin hailed the same rubbish his own gp said himself big farce , cost mega per pill ,pharmaceutical companies hyped it up for investment perposes ect ect , big con , 6 months in admitted it was , no better than an everyday anti deprssant . These con merchants have no idea , u familys prob do , I did with my dear old dad , high blood prssure mini tia s he never knew about proteien wrapping round broken blood vessells bad bad knock on head 20 yrs earlier dent in his head , damage . Proteien not good , these companys making billions of pounds giving false hope . Rip my pops . Xxxx

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    David H 29 July 2016 at 7:00 am #

    Hope eternal…..the day will dawn.

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