New Alzheimer’s drug approved during Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Awareness Month
June 22, 2021
June is Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Awareness Month. And it happens to coincide with an important announcement by the Food and Drug Administration of approval of a new therapy (aducanumab) for Alzheimer’s sold under the brand name Aduhelm. It is the first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly two decades.
What is unique about this drug is that it is the first medication designed to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease – toxic proteins in the brain called beta-amyloids that destroy neurons. Other Alzheimer’s drugs treat the symptoms of the disease.
Aduhelm is not a cure for Alzheimer’s and it does not reverse the disease’s progression. It was tested through clinical trials involving only patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s with evidence of amyloid in their brains. So, the drug’s success in slowing cognitive decline in all people with Alzheimer’s still remains to be proven.
More than 6 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease. While Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are sometimes used interchangeably, it is important to note their differences.
Dementia is a disorder of progressive worsening of memory and other cognitive skills, such as language, attention, the ability to identify shapes or items in two and three dimensions (visuospatial functioning) and the mental skills needed to get things done (executive functioning). Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for more than 60% of cases. Other types of dementia are frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia.
Dementia is preventable. Research has shown that maintaining a healthy lifestyle by doing regular aerobic exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, participating in intellectually and socially stimulating activities, and preventing or controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, are highly effective ways to maintain cognition and prevent dementia.
Wayne Health’s Dementia and Memory Disorders Clinic provides specialized and multidisciplinary evaluation and treatment for all memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Wayne Health Department of Neurology also hosts a unique clinic for people with concurrent dementia and seizures. In certain people with dementia, seizures might be contributing to their memory problems. Dr. Rohit Marawar leads both these clinics. To make an appointment with a Wayne Health neurologist, call (888) DMC-2500., or visit our web appointment page.
Through our affiliation with Wayne State University School of Medicine, Wayne Health providers also offer opportunities to participate in Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia and seizure, research and clinical trials. Visit the Wayne State University School of Medicine Dementia and Behavioral Neurology Clinic webpage for more information.