LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A new drug for Alzheimer’s treatment is showing evidence that it can slow the progression of the disease.
It’s a major breakthrough for an illness that until now has baffled scientists, and eluded efforts to treat it.
“It is the only thing we have,” said Burtha Bullen.
Bullen is a mid-Michigan native and a volunteer with the Michigan Alzheimer’s Association.
She says the FDA’s latest drug Lecanemab, or Leqembi is a beacon of hope for the Alzheimer’s community.
The new drug, approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, has been proven to effectively remove a sticky protein called beta-amyloid that builds up into brain-clogging plaque.
It’s no cure, but can buy people more time.
“There was about a 27% reduction in the progression of the disease. This is the first time that we have seen anything that even appears to impact that progression,” said Bullen.
It’s meant to be used by people in the very earliest stages of the disease, and is administered through IV every two weeks.
But experts at Sparrow Hospital say there are some possible risks that come along with it.
“A serious one would be bleeding of the brain or swelling of the brain… This drug is approved, but we are not even close to administering it to the general public yet,’ said Dr. Kristin Gaumer, a Geriatrician for Senior Health at Sparrow.
But moving forward, Alzheimer’s experts say the choice to use the drug may not even be possible for some, as the treatment is expensive.
“The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on these insurance companies and CMS, to make it available to cover it, so that all people can benefit from it not just those who can pay for it out of pocket,” said Jean Barnas, the Program Director at Michigan’s Azlehmier’s association.
And for Bullen, it’s a step in the right direction.
“We got involved because we wanted to see more research done, to come to this day where there is actually something that might impact the disease course.”