Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, but in exciting news, a new drug for its treatment has been approved in the United States and could be available in the UK from as early as next year.
Aducanumab is the first new drug to get approval in the US for more than 20 years. It has been shown to benefit some people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, by helping to prevent the build-up of the amaloid protein that causes cognitive decline.
The brain is made up of millions of nerve cells that connect to each other and with Alzheimer’s disease, the nerve cells are disrupted by ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ that build up inside the brain. Eventually this means that nerve cells die and brain tissue is lost. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease progress over time, often slowly over several years, and include confusion, difficulty making decisions, problems with speech and personality changes. The part of the brain affected as a result of dementia depends on which type of dementia you have.
While not everyone who took part in the clinical trials for Aducanumab saw positive results, those who did found they were better able to travel independently, perform household chores and manage their finances. If the drug is approved by the UK and European regulatory authorities, it will likely only be available to people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. However, given the lack of treatments available for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the news is a significant stepping stone and could support the development of other anti-amyloid drugs.
Dr Richard Oakley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, a national charity raising vital funds for dementia research and support for people living with a form of dementia, said: “This is just the beginning of the road to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. As this drug will only benefit a proportion of people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, there are hundreds of thousands more who may not be eligible. We must keep searching for drugs for all stages of Alzheimer’s disease and for other types of dementia.”
Aducanumab is now going to be tracked by scientists in the US, in a further trial to monitor its impact. To be granted approval in the UK, the drug will have to be scrutinised by a number of agencies, who may demand further trials to assess its benefits. We can expect to hear the outcome from the European Medicines Agency from October this year, with a UK result following in 2022.
As a provider of quality Alzheimer’s homecare and dementia care at home services, we support the vital work of Alzheimer’s Society – here at Right at Home East Lancashire and Ribble Valley we regularly fundraise for this very worthy cause. Across the Right at Home network nationally we have raised £50,000 for Alzheimer’s Society since our charity partnership launched in April 2019.
Do you provide dementia homecare for a loved one? If you would like to know more about how Right at Home East Lancashire and Ribble Valley can provide dementia home help to support you and your family, please call us on 01254 658899.