Atabecestat in Preclinical Alzheimer Disease


Atabecestat, a nonselective oral β-secretase inhibitor, was evaluated in the EARLY trial for slowing cognitive decline in participants with preclinical Alzheimer disease. Preliminary analyses suggested dose-related cognitive worsening and neuropsychiatric adverse events (AEs).

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2b/3 study conducted from November 2015 to December 2018 after being stopped prematurely. The study was conducted at 143 centers across 14 countries. Participants were permitted to be followed off-treatment by the original protocol, collecting safety and efficacy data. From 4464 screened participants, 557 amyloid-positive, cognitively normal (Clinical Dementia Rating of 0; aged 60-85 years) participants (approximately 34% of originally planned 1650) were randomized before the trial sponsor stopped enrollment.

Of 557 participants, 341 were women (61.2%); mean (SD) age was 70.4 (5.56) years. In May 2018, study medication was stopped early owing to hepatic-related AEs; participants were followed up off-treatment for 6 months.

Atabecestat, 25 mg, showed significant cognitive worsening vs placebo for Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite at month 6 (least-square mean difference, −1.09; 95% CI, −1.66 to −0.53; P < .001) and month 12 (least-square mean, −1.62; 95% CI, −2.49 to −0.76; P < .001), and at month 3 for Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (least-square mean, −3.70; 95% CI, −5.76 to −1.63; P < .001).

Cognitive Function Index participant report showed nonsignificant worsening at month 12.

Systemic and neuropsychiatric-related treatment-emergent AEs were greater in atabecestat groups vs placebo.

After stopping treatment, follow-up cognitive testing and AE assessment provided evidence of reversibility of drug-induced cognitive worsening and AEs in atabecestat groups.