Experts hope potential Alzheimer’s drug might have impact on patients in the Ozarks

Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 9:35 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - For the first time in nearly 20 years, a new treatment for Alzheimer’s might be on the way. The Food and Drug Administration will soon consider a new drug option that could pro-long the disease. A panel of medical experts told the FDA it would not recommend approval, though.

“She hasn’t known my name in years now. Two or three years, but every time I would go up there she would know she knows me and I’m in her tribe," said Mark Applegate.

Applegate’s mother was diagnosed with a mild form of dementia 11 years ago. He said she didn’t show many symptoms until about 6 years later, when her memory started fading fast.

“My mom played piano real well, up until a year ago. She was pretty much non-verbal but she could still play the piano," he said.

Applegate, who is the Director of Systems Alignment for Senior Age in Springfield, said the brain is complex, which is why he is not surprised it’s taken so long for the Food and Drug Administration to even consider a new treatment option.

“Some dementias are caused by one thing and some are caused by another," he said. "This treatment is attacking the amyloids, which is believed to be one of the causes, but it might not be. It may be a symptom or a scar kind of thing. I don’t know that they’re 100% sure of that.”

Experts aren’t even sure if the FDA should approve the new drug option. The New York Times reports a panel of experts voted it was not “reasonable” to say aducanumab is effective in treating Alzheimer’s. Trials were stopped in March of 2019 when it did not seem to be working.

Even so, the Alzheimer’s Association hopes the FDA will approve it anyway.

The Greater Missouri Chapter President, Stacy Tew Lovasz, sent a statement that reads: “There is an extreme need to offer relief and support to the millions of Americans affected every day by the crushing realities of Alzheimer’s. That is why the decision before the FDA is critical.”

The statement went on to say more recent data supports approval.

Applegate said, in his own research, he’s found the drug is mostly designed to slow the progression of the disease.

“It doesn’t sound like it’s curative at all, or maybe not even life-extending, but if it can make it to where you can stay sharp, remember more for longer, it’s a big plus," he said.

He said even though a new treatment might not help his mom in facing end-stages of dementia, he still believes there is hope for other families like his.

“It’s a huge, multi-million people problem, so if it helps a small percentage of those people, it’s awesome. To have anything, it’s a start," Applegate said.

The FDA is expected to make a decision about the drug by March.

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