A Dundee city service that supports people living with Alzheimer’s has reacted to approval of a new drug to treat the condition in the US.
The drug, aducanumab, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is the first new drug approved to treat Alzheimer’s in almost 20 years.
The drug targets the cause of Alzheimer’s as opposed to the symptoms, breaking down a plaque build up in patients’ brains and helping to slow the onset of the condition.
Developed by American company Biogen, it is the first treatment to specifically target the cause of Alzheimer’s as opposed to the symptoms and side effects of the disease.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which can lead to problems with memory loss, concentration, language and changes to personality.
It is not yet entirely understood why dementia develops, which makes treating the cause extremely difficult. Risk factors include older age, family history and head injuries.
Developing Alzheimer’s does not just impact the individual diagnosed, but can have a huge impact on family, friends and other loved ones, with many having to take on a caring role in the person’s life.
Doris Boag cares for her husband, Joe, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2020.
She said: “The family and I were all very excited when we heard the news. I phoned our three children while I was watching!
“It sounds an amazing breakthrough but now we have to be realistic and remember how long it will be before the drug will be available in Britain and of course how expensive it will be.
“So a very positive success for everyone who has this awful disease or will get it in the future.
“Meanwhile I will keep praying that maybe Joe will be one of the lucky ones.”
‘This progress is encouraging’
Nikki Lorimer, localities lead at Alzheimer Scotland’s Dundee Dementia Resource Centre, said the new drug was a positive step in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, but it could be a while before it is approved for use in the UK.
Nikki said: “Alzheimer Scotland welcomes the FDA decision to authorise aducanumab for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
“This is the first new drug approved for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003 and, unlike current drugs, may slow the progression of the disease rather than act to help ease symptoms.
“This progress is encouraging however it may be some time before aducanumab is available in the UK.
“First, it must go through an approval process with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – the UK equivalent of the FDA.
“The FDA and the MHRA approval processes are separate so a drug can be approved by one authority and not by the other.
“There is likely to be a lot of information about aducanumab circling. For accurate and balanced information from experts, you can visit brainhealth.scot/aducanumab.”