What we know about the latest Alzheimer’s medications

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Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die, leads to a decline in cognitive function and memory.

Until recently, treatment options were mostly limited to medications that could only temporarily alleviate symptoms without slowing the overall progression of the disease.

However, the recent approval of new drugs promises potential improvements in treatment outcomes for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

This review provides an easy-to-understand overview of these developments, explaining how these drugs work and what they mean for patients and their families.

One of the most talked-about new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease is a drug called Aducanumab, marketed under the brand name Aduhelm.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2021, Aduhelm is the first therapy that targets the underlying pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is designed to reduce the build-up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, which are believed to play a crucial role in the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Beta-amyloid is a protein that can clump together and form plaques that disrupt communication between brain cells and trigger immune system responses that can lead to inflammation and brain cell death.

The approval of Aduhelm was based on evidence from clinical trials that showed the drug could effectively reduce these plaques in patients’ brains.

However, it is important to note that the trials produced mixed results regarding the drug’s ability to improve cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning.

Some participants saw a slowdown in the progression of symptoms, while others did not experience significant changes. Despite these uncertainties, the drug’s ability to affect the biological markers of the disease offers hope and a new avenue for treatment.

Another significant advancement is the drug Donanemab, which is still in the experimental phase but has shown promising results in early clinical trials. Like Aduhelm, Donanemab targets amyloid plaques in the brain.

In a phase 2 trial, Donanemab not only reduced amyloid build-up but also slowed down the progression of cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s patients compared to a placebo.

This drug is currently undergoing further trials to confirm these findings and determine the best dosage and long-term impacts.

Besides these amyloid-targeting drugs, researchers are also exploring treatments that focus on other aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.

For example, drugs like Gantenerumab and Lecanemab are in advanced stages of research and target both amyloid plaques and tau proteins—another substance that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and harms brain cells.

Treatment with these drugs involves regular infusions at a medical facility, and there are potential side effects that patients need to consider, such as the risk of brain swelling or bleeding, which were observed in some trial participants.

These risks underline the importance of close medical supervision when using these new treatments.

While these new drugs represent a significant step forward, it’s important for patients and caregivers to maintain realistic expectations. Alzheimer’s disease is complex, and no current treatment can cure it entirely.

The effectiveness of these new drugs can also vary from person to person. However, the advent of these treatments offers new hope and additional options for managing the disease, potentially improving the quality of life for many patients.

In conclusion, the development of new drugs like Aduhelm and Donanemab opens new possibilities in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by targeting the disease’s underlying causes rather than just its symptoms.

As research continues, these treatments have the potential to transform the landscape of Alzheimer’s care, offering hope to patients and families affected by this challenging condition.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies that bad lifestyle habits can cause Alzheimer’s disease, and strawberries can be good defence against Alzheimer’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that oral cannabis extract may help reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms, and Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease.

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