The reaction was decidedly mixed in San Diego when Biogen recently presented more detailed data on aducanumab. The firm hopes the experimental Alzheimer’s treatment will become the first-ever Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine to treat more than symptoms.

Some neuroscientists in attendance responded with cautious optimism. That’s because the drug seems to lower the buildup of beta amyloid, a substance linked to dementia onset. As a result, those with early onset may retain functional independence for a longer duration.

But others were more skeptical. They said the firm’s handling of trial findings could introduce bias and overly optimistic conclusions.

The FDA approved memantine in 2003. The medication is commonly marketed as Namenda and relieves some of the symptoms of dementia. But it does not help cure the disease.