Triad families hopeful as FDA approves Alzheimer’s drug

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Triad families remain anxious to see the effects of the newly-approved drug that is shown to have an impact on the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Biogen-produced drug, aducanumab, on Monday.

The monthly injections have been shown to have some effect on removing amyloid plaque that builds up on neurons in the brain’s cells, which leads to cognitive deterioration.

“This is such a detrimental disease. When it comes in, it tears a family apart,” Kamala Jones said.

The Greensboro woman is the caregiver to her mother, who has battled Alzheimer’s for eight years.

Her mother is the third member of the family who was diagnosed with the disease.

“She used to be my rock, used to have all of the answers. Now me and my kids have to be that to her,” she said.

Unfortunately, research has shown aducanumab to only be effective in cases where Alzheimer’s is in its early stages.

“It is extremely imperative that I do anything and everything I can such as diet, exercise, and educating myself and my children so we stay ahead of it, or somehow stop it, prevent it, or put it off,” Jones said.

Dr. Patrick Martin, the interim director of the Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s, Aging and Community Health, explained that with those who have severe plaque build-up on the neurons in their brain cells, the injections won’t be able to do enough to help those damaged cells recover.

“It’s just not believed that you will gain enough over time,” Martin said.

COAACH operates in the Triad with the mission of helping teach those who have loved ones diagnosed with the disease how to be caretakers for their loved ones.

Those they help are often-times members of the Black community in the Triad. Research shows that African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to any other group.

Martin explained, while there is still a lot to learn about Alzheimer’s, this trend is due to a variety of possible issues. It could come down to genetics and to less access to health care over a lifetime.

It is still too early to know when this drug will be administered as often as other types of drugs of disease.

The FDA has asked that Biogen continue to do clinical trials. There is also discussion over the $50-60,000 a year price tag that could come with treatment.

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