By now you may have heard the latest news on the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug, developed by Biogen, called Aducanumab to potentially delay the cognitive decline experienced in Alzheimer’s disease.
This is exciting news because, prior to this, medications have focused only on addressing symptoms without actually attacking the source within the brain cells. Of course, it is important to understand that Aducanumab is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. And yet, according to many scientists and the Alzheimer’s Association it represents a significant advancement in how we approach treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. As of now the drug has shown efficacy in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It has not yet been tested on individuals in more advanced stages.
Aducanumab breaks new ground as the first drug to actually remove amyloid plaque from the brain.
How does Aducanumab work? Alzheimer’s disease, as you may know, involves the binding together of clumps of amyloid plaques which build up around brain cells and inhibit their function. This ultimately leads to cognitive decline. Simply put, Aducanumab works in much the way that antibodies protect our bodies from harmful toxins and viruses. It is a lab-created antibody that latches on to the built-up amyloid clusters and clears them away from the brain.
There remain questions about the level cognitive improvement attained by taking the drug.
While Aducanumab shows great promise, it is important to note that there is still more to learn about the drug’s efficacy, which has led to some skepticism among scientists. Some of the clinical trials were inconclusive in determining just how much cognitive improvement resulted from clearing away the amyloid cluster plaques. There were also some concerns about potential side effects. However, the Alzheimer’s Association and other health and aging advocacy groups consider this a huge step forward in the race to identify a cure for this deadly disease that on any given day challenges the lives of over six million Americans.
Bringing us another step closer to finding a cure.
Much work remains to determine exactly how Aducanumab (to be sold through Biogen as Aduhelm) is able to clear away amyloid plaque build up and more research is needed to determine if the drug can impact individuals in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. However, every step brings us closer to finding a cure. And that, we believe, is reason for hope!
(photo credit: David A. White - Biogen/Associated Press)