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Alzheimer’s Insights: FDA approves new Alzheimer’s treatment

Scott Finley

The approval of the drug aducanumab by the Food & Drug Administration for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease marks a new day for millions of Americans.

Aducanumab, also known by its brand name of Aduhelm, is the first drug shown to slow Alzheimer’s disease and is the beginning of a completely new future for Alzheimer’s treatments.

While it is not a cure, current progress in science is significant and aducanumab is expected to be the first of a number of treatments to come.

Aducanumab helps extend the ability to perform activities of daily living, such as making meals, managing finances, and traveling outside the home independently.

It works by removing amyloid from the brain. Amyloid is the protein that clumps into sticky brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, and is administered intravenously (IV) via a 45- to 60-minute infusion every four weeks.

The approval of this new therapy makes early detection and diagnosis even more critical to ensure individuals receive the most benefit at the earliest point possible. 

When considering any treatment, including aducanumab, it is important to have a conversation with your health care provider to determine if you are a candidate for the treatment. He or she can provide a preliminary assessment and may refer you to a specialist to determine what stage of the disease you are in.

Knowing the stage of the disease is important because aducanumab was studied in those with early Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s, and evidence of a buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain. Symptoms of MCI include a noticeable change in cognition — such as short-term memory loss, problems with word finding, or losing track of the day or date — but not yet full dementia.

If you or a loved one is experiencing memory changes, the Alzheimer’s Association strongly encourages speaking with a health care provider for a thorough evaluation, diagnosis and to discuss treatment options.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month®, and while we take steps to exercise and take care of our brains, we shouldn’t neglect the fact that caregivers of those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia need some recognition too.

You can also help by taking part in The Longest Day.  It’s held on the date of the summer solstice – this year, June 20th.  It’s aimed at starting and continuing the conversation about brain health.

There’s still plenty of time to join The Longest Day events for June.

Go to alz.org/thelongestday to sign up and select an activity to

raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association and support the Alzheimer’s Association’s efforts to advance critically needed research and provide care and support to all those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org