An experimental Alzheimer's drug developed by Eli Lilly and Co. slowed cognitive decline by 35% in a late-stage trial, the company has said, providing what experts say is the strongest evidence yet that removing sticky amyloid plaques from the brain benefits patients with the fatal disease.

Lilly's drug, donanemab, met all goals of the trial, the company said Wednesday. It slowed progression of Alzheimer's by 35% compared to a placebo in 1,182 people with early-stage disease whose brains had deposits of two key Alzheimer's proteins — beta amyloid as well as intermediate levels of tau, a protein linked with disease progression and brain cell death.

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, and that number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.