AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– For the first time in 20 years, the FDA approved a new drug, Aduhelm (aducanumab), for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is an irreversible disease that deteriorates memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to perform simple tasks. But now, there may be newfound hope in this new drug.
Aducanumab is designed to slow the progression of the disease, with the idea that it will help patients keep their memories longer.
“That’s the holy grail of any neurodegenerative disease process like Alzheimer’s where neurons are dying, is to slow down the disease,” said director of MCG Movement and Memory Disorder Program, Dr. John Morgan.
The drug was approved Monday via the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway, which speeds the drug approval process for conditions with a significant unmet need.
Dr. Morgan says the drugs currently used to treat Alzheimer’s do help some of the time, but he says these medicines are “just okay” when it comes to how much they can help patients
“The main problem with these two drugs is that they help a little bit A), B) they don’t slow down the disease process,” Dr. Morgan said.
But aducanumab research showed promise when it comes to significantly slowing down the disease– helping patients stay connected to their lives and loved ones longer.
“It is exciting to have a new therapy to offer patients. One that has the potential to change the disease,” Dr. Morgan said.
He says it’s likely the drug will be most effective for those in the earlier stages of the disease, as Alzheimer’s is irreversible, and this drug aims to slow the process.
“It’s very unlikely to make a significant dent in the process that has already gone pretty far down the road,” Dr. Morgan said.
Biogen, the drug maker, is required by the FDA to do a follow up study to confirm the drug’s benefits.