WACO, Texas – June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and with this year’s month comes an FDA approved treatment for Alzheimer’s patients – Aducanumab.
This drug modifies the disease instead of relieving symptoms, which is what many current Alzheimer’s treatments do now.
“It gets rid of these toxic amyloid proteins that build up in the brain of Alzheimer’s, and kills the nerve cells there,” Dr. Douglass Scharre said, from the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “So you might imagine, ‘Gosh, the earlier I get rid of this toxic material, my brain is going to be better.’ Very true.”
Amyloid is found in every patient that has Alzheimer’s Disease. It creates what doctors call plaques, which scatter across the brain and create the toxicity which makes one forget and slows cognitive function.
“This medication gets rid of this toxic protein,” Scharre said. “The earlier you catch people that have this amyloid in their brain, and are not so devastated, still have just very minimal cognitive issues.”
“We’re hoping we can modify the disease. We get this toxin out, and hopefully this will slow down the condition so that your life is improved,” he added.
For many, Alzheimer’s Disease starts as patients forgetting dates, important information, or even everyday tasks like finding your keys or putting on the right attire for the weather.
But it’s more than just forgetful symptoms to be weary of.
“People may have symptoms of Alzheimer’s for many years, and they are so mild that family members and loved ones actually don’t recognize those symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Brenda Shuttlesworth said, the Regional Director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Northwest Texas. “And actually, sometimes people don’t have any of the classic symptoms, so to speak, for maybe 20 years.”
Some independent advisors say the treatment hasn’t been shown to help slow the brain-destroying disease. Despite those thoughts, Shuttlesworth believes it’s worth celebrating.
“I think that it’s important to, number one, celebrate the success,” she said. “It’s been almost 20 years since a new treatment has been released.”
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, you can click here.