Patients with early and mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease taking the strongest dose of an experimental Biogen Idec Inc. drug experienced slower cognitive decline after a year compared with patients who received a placebo in a small, early-stage study, the company said Friday.

Biogen had said in December that the drug, called aducanumab, had produced a statistically significant effect on cognition. But the company had not yet released detailed results. The drug is also known as “BIIB037.”

Biogen’s drug is designed to help clear the brain of beta amyloid plaques, which many scientists say play a role in causing Alzheimer’s, a progressive, memory-destroying condition associated with older age. But the so-called “amyloid hypothesis” is controversial, and other drugs targeted at amyloid plaques have failed in late-stage studies.

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