In the United States, Blacks account for twenty percent of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and are twice as likely to develop the disease than Caucasians. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death for Americans and the 4th leading cause of death for older African Americans.
There are mixed opinions surrounding the experimental drug, Aducanumab, that was developed to slow the mental decline of Alzheimer’s disease. While some are excited about the new drug, others are questioning whether the drug is all it claims to be.
Aducanumab was developed to aid the body with breaking down harmful plaques or protein clumps that form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. These plaques inhibit neurons from connecting and cause disruptions with memory, speech, reasoning, and loss of brain function. Alzheimer’s drugs that are currently available ease the symptoms of the disease, but fail to slow down the loss of brain function.
Earlier this year, developers brought studies for Aducanumab to a screeching halt because the drug seemed tonot be working. Recently, however, a company has presented new results that could explain why the first study was unsuccessful and the latest study is a success.
In October, developers started a new study and the results indicated that the experimental drug was effective when administered at a higher dose. At a recent Alzheimer’s conference in San Diego, these findings were convincing for some. On the other hand, others remained uncertain if the drug has the evidence to win the approval of the U.S Food and Drug Administration (USDA).
Dr. David Knopman from the Mayo Clinic stated, “I don’t see how you can conclude anything other than that another trial needs to be done.” Dr. Knopman sits on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel, but he will not participate in the review of Aducanumab due to his involvement with one of the studies.
While Laurie Ryan, a dementia scientist at the National Institute on Aging agrees with Dr. Knopman, Dr. Paul Aisen disagrees. Dr. Aisen is a dementia specialist from the University of Southern California. Dr. Aisen said that overall, the results were “consistent and positive” to be beneficial at a high dose. As can you see, the conclusions most certainly lie at opposite ends of the spectrum.
If this drug is truly effective, it could drastically change the lives of more than 5 million people with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.
Dr. Candace McMillon-Dantley is on a mission to inspire and educate women to health. She is the creator of The Doc Knows, a health and wellness site for women. When she’s not health writing, she is health motivating and educating through presentations on healthy nutrition, self-care, and conditions of the body. Her experiences as a business owner, chiropractor, wife, and mom of two resonate with all women. Connect with Dr. Candace on Instagram @drcandace.