YOUR HEALTH: First FDA approved drug to slow Alzheimer’s

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, yet, but now, a newly FDA-approved drug is helping to slow its progression before it’s too late.
Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 8:11 AM CST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) - More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. It slowly steals your memories and takes away your mind. There is no cure, yet, but now, a newly FDA-approved drug is helping to slow its progression before it’s too late.

Joan Murtaugh, 77, is sifting through a lifetime of memories, but a few years ago, Joan and her husband Larry felt something was off.

Larry said he saw Joan, who was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, go through a decline. There was nothing doctors could do. But now, a recently FDA-approved drug helps slow the progression.

The medication, Leqembi, was the first drug to receive full approval. It reduces amyloid plaque in the brain that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

“If, somehow, you interrupt this cascade of amyloid buildup in the brain, you may be able to slow down this progression,” explained Dr. Babak Tousi, a Cleveland Clinic neurogeriatrician.

Early-stage Alzheimer’s patients who received the medication had a 27 percent reduction of amyloid beta plaque and a slower rate of cognitive decline. Doctors also saw a decrease in another harmful brain protein, tau tangles.

“It’s not just removing the plaque amyloid, we were able to show all these changes in this biomarkers of the disease,” added Dr. Tousi.

Joan has been on the medication for three years, and Larry says he thinks his wife is clearer and sharper.

“When I think about it, I can still drive a car. I mean, I can go back and forth and do the things I always did,” said Joan.

Dr. Tousi believes this is just the beginning. Clinical trials are already underway using Leqembi on people who are at high risk for Alzheimer’s but are not showing any signs of cognitive decline. In its approval, the FDA included its strongest warning label — called a boxed warning — about side effects, noting that Leqembi can lead to bleeding and brain swelling.

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