The Newly Approved Alzheimer’s Treatment Brings Hope

Ray Burow avatar

by Ray Burow |

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The Alzheimer’s disease community received fantastic news last week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Aside from the apparent reason, the approval of the drug Aduhelm (aducanumab) is encouraging because it’s been nearly two decades since a new treatment for the most common form of dementia has been approved. Of course, we continue to anticipate a cure, but the FDA’s approval of Aduhelm gives our community hope. It is a step in the right direction, which motivates patients and caregivers to keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Hope deferred

Announcements regarding upcoming medications that may be available down the road offer deferred hope to people affected by the disease. We often hear about progress in a laboratory, or that a medication in clinical trials holds promise, only to be informed that the jury’s still out. We are told that the drug’s effectiveness and safety won’t be determined for years to come.

The news regarding the FDA’s approval of Aduhelm lands differently on the ears of folks who are desperate for a cure. There are more than 6 million people with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. who need a cure sooner than later. Now, the pharmaceutical company Biogen has brought hope much closer.

The reason for hope

Aduhelm is the first treatment of its kind for Alzheimer’s. Up until now, Alzheimer’s medications only treated the symptoms. Aduhelm, a disease-modifying therapy, could potentially treat the actual illness by slowing disease progression.

The new medication is believed to work by targeting plaques, or clumps of amyloid proteins that build up between neurons in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Aduhelm adheres to these amyloid plaques, tricking the body’s immune system into believing the plaque is a foreign invader. Scientists hope this will have a domino effect: The body will remove the plaque, which will help clear the neuro pathways, and as brain cells stop dying, cognitive function will improve.

Who benefits?

If you or a loved one is experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s, you may be a candidate for Aduhelm. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms but haven’t been diagnosed, see your healthcare provider right away. Early diagnosis is key to prevention, and with the introduction of Aduhelm, we now may have a treatment that could help slow the progression.

Unfortunately, clinical trials of the drug only included people with mild symptoms, but don’t lose heart. History has taught us that one breakthrough makes way for more. As a result, we can expect more advances in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

What to do next?

Biogen is shipping the intravenous transfusion medication to 900 healthcare facilities over the next few weeks. Before the drug is administered, the patient must undergo additional testing to determine if plaque is present in the brain. We’ll have to stay tuned to learn when treatments are available to patients. Currently, cost is a factor. But again, if history’s taught us anything, it’s that medication prices usually level out, primarily as more companies break through with effective treatments.

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Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.

Comments

mary belinda avatar

mary belinda

My husband was diagnosed of Parkinsons disease 2 years ago, when he was 59. He had a stooped posture, tremors, right arm does not move and also a pulsating feeling in his body. He was placed on Senemet for 8 months and then Siferol was introduced and replaced the Senemet, during this time span he was also diagnosed with dementia. He started having hallucinations, lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge)  him on PD natural herbal formula we ordered from TREE OF LIFE HEALTH CLINIC, his symptoms totally declined over a 3 weeks use of the TREE OF LIFE HEALTH Parkinson's disease natural herbal formula. He is nowand started almost 61 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed!  (w w w. treeoflifeherbalclinic .com)

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Ray Burow avatar

Ray Burow

Mary,

I am so happy for you and your husband and appreciate hearing the good news. I think your story drives home how important it is to advocate for our loved ones, to be their voice when they're most vulnerable. I also appreciate how you involved his healthcare provider, as evidenced by this line in your comment; "Suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge)." This is extremely important.

Thank you for sharing your husband's story. I wish you both the best!

Ray Burow

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Lukas Fierz avatar

Lukas Fierz

I am a neurologist and saw many patients with dementia and Alzheimers. Depending on the study the effects of Aduhelm on dementia are nonexistent or small and doubtful and in practice will not lighten the burden for patients, families and caregivers. Thats why FDA's expert panel rejected the drug 10:1. Hope exists but it does not rest on this drug, which sucks up insane amounts of finances urgently needed for useful aims. There are more convincing drug approaches, e.g tumor necrosis factor antagonists.

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Ray Burow avatar

Ray Burow

Dr. Fierz,

Thank you for taking the time to read the article and to comment. Your concerns, especially in light of your professional experience, are understandable. According to an FDA press release, “In determining that the application met the requirements for Accelerated Approval, the Agency concluded that the benefits of Aduhelm for patients with Alzheimer’s disease outweighed the risks of the therapy...” I suppose this can be viewed as a disclaimer of sorts, but to Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers, the recent approval definitely infuses a measure of hope, something of which we've had very little for a long time. The first FDA-approved medication in 18 years may have patients grasping at straws, but many are willing to take the chance, believing that the "benefits will indeed outweigh the risk."

I will add, that I am interested in hearing more about the "convincing drug approaches" you mention.
Thank you again for commenting and also for the work you do on behalf of Alzheimer's patients and their families.

Sincerely,
Ray Burow

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Noel Arthur Cowell avatar

Noel Arthur Cowell

Difficult to make a comment as there is both good and not good comments by professionals .

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Ray Burow avatar

Ray Burow

Mr. Cowell,

Thank you for your comment. I agree; it is difficult. Only time will reveal the effectiveness of this newly approved treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Having been a primary caregiver, I think more people will take a chance on receiving the infusion treatments compared to those who won't, given that we absolutely know the outcome of Alzheimer's and are desperate.

The exorbitant cost would have been the greatest deterrent to my family but looking back, if my mother, in the early stage of her disease, was given the opportunity to avoid its devastating effects on her brain, our family may have taken that chance. Of course, how can we know what we'd do until faced with the decision?
It's too late for my dear mother but I am hoping that Aduhelm is a breakthrough treatment, which will lead to more treatment solutions that won't leave us teetering between "should we or shouldn't we?"

Here's to a cure!

Ray Burow

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Camille Hyatt avatar

Camille Hyatt

While I was ecstatic to hear about Aduhelm, I was also disappointed to hear that the FDA's expert panel rejected the drug 10-1. That speaks volumes to me. From what I understand, it was rejected because the “trials” lacked sufficient evidence that the drug was effective.

I have been a caregiver for over 10 years. First, my husband, who had early onset dementia and other serious health issues. He passed away five years ago. Now it’s my father who is 93 years old.

To see people I love struggle with this disease just breaks my heart. As a caregiver, I would welcome any kind of hope, but I am very hesitant with this new drug due to the FDA Expert panel rejecting it’s approval. The FDA’s approval resulted in several board members’ resignation. 🤷🏻‍♀️

On the other hand, time will tell. Hopefully the results will be amazing!!!

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LISA Hansen avatar

LISA Hansen

Thank you for publishing this
information.
Sadly My doctor did not mention
this new drug at my most recent
exam
a few weeks ago. I will contact her
for mor information,
Thank you for publishing this
information about this new treatment.

Reply

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Aduhelm Approved