CLEVELAND – A trip down memory lane can be a challenge for 64-year-old Ron DeChant, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
“Before this started I was able to do all kinds of stuff and all of a sudden it’s like, what’s going on with my brain? Something is not working here,” he recalls.
Ron enrolled in a clinical trial at Cleveland Clinic for an IV infusion called aducanumab. The new drug targets amyloid, a protein that forms in the brain creating plaques, which are believed to cause dementia.
“When this antibody, this medication aducanumab, sticks to amyloids it helps the immune system to identify them and remove them,” said Ron’s doctor, Babak Tousi, MD, of Cleveland Clinic.
Aducanumab recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Tousi said the drug doesn’t reverse damage or improve symptoms, but may give people more time before advanced dementia sets in.
“The observation was that if people received a 10 milligram per kilogram dose, which is the highest dose, they noticed significant improvement in removing amyloid plaque in the brain compared to the group who did not receive this medication,” explained Dr. Tousi.
In the last year, Ron has begun to struggle to put faces with names, but since enrolling in a second trial for the drug, he believes his decline has slowed. He and his wife know it’s not a cure, but they’re determined to advance science.
“We’re trying everything we can to find answers and to help, not only us, but everyone, how we can do something to stop this process,” said Colleetta DeChant, Ron’s wife.
The new drug is the first shown to slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
It should be available to patients in the weeks ahead but is expected to carry a high price tag and won’t be covered by insurance, initially.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Tousi is a paid scientific advisor for Biogen.