Alzheimer’s is an irreversable disease which slowly destroys memory and thought connections, and finally, the ability to carry out simple actions. In spite of much research in the field, the causes of Alzheimer’s are not known in their entirety, but it is known that the disease causes physical changes in the brain–like the accumulation of amyloid layers (protein), which collect in specific regions of the brain and cause the loss of neural action, affecting the person’s ability to remember and reason. The cause of this protein accumulation is still under speculation. Recently the Biogen Company received FDA approval to produce a medicine called ADUHELM™.
, which they claim can reverse the effects of the disease and treat Alzheimer’s. This medicine, which is given intravenously, is a synthetic antibody which mimics the antibodies created by our immune system. This antibody attaches to the amyloid layer so that the connection causes a vaccination-like response causing the protein layer to separate. The researchers have estimated the effectiveness of ADUHELM ™ in three separate research projects conducted with 3482 random Alzheimer’s patients. The treatment of these patients brought a significant reduction is the accumulation of amyloid layers, while in a control group of patients there was no reduction in the amyloid layers.
As noted, the cause of this disease is still unknown and therefore it is still not possible to judge if the removal of the amyloid layers will remove the cause of the illness, or if in fact the medicine just treats the symptoms. Additionally, it is not yet clear if reducing the amyloid protein layers improves the quality of life and the abilities of the patient. This lack of certainty caused the advisory panel of the FDA to strongly reject certifying the medicine for treatment of Alzheimer’s.
However, at this time, after a new analysis of the research results, the FDA has decided to finally authorize use of this medicine.
Michael Greicius , a neurologist at Stanford University, said, “This is a great day for Biogen and its stock holders, but a sad day for Alzheimer’s research. Pushing forward such a “break through”, he said, “will bring a big reduction in the real advancement toward finding a useful treatment for this destructive disease.”