Progress in Detecting & Treating Alzheimer’s
NEW DRUG AND BLOOD TEST
Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug for Alzheimer’s type dementia called aducanumab, also known as Aduhelm. The acceptance of this medication was somewhat controversial. The FDA used the accelerated approval pathway, which is one that is often used for innovative drugs that address critical illnesses and appear to provide a significant advantage over existing medications. Many scientists believe that Aduhelm represents a first-of-its-kind treatment for Alzheimer’s. It is the first drug approved for Alzheimer’s since 2003 and the first therapy that appears to show promise in targeting the underlying pathophysiology of the disease – as opposed to former medications that addressed its symptoms. The FDA is requiring Biogen to conduct a new randomized, controlled clinical trial to confirm the drug’s clinical benefit. In the event the trial fails to verify the benefit, the FDA could withdraw its approval.
In Hong Kong, researchers have developed a new blood test to identify Alzheimer’s disease. A team at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, led by a well-known neuroscientist Nancy Ip, believe that early detection will enable closer monitoring to slow a patient’s rate of deterioration. The new test is an “ultra-sensitive method” that will identify specific plasma proteins associated with the disease. According to Ip, “With the advancement of ultra-sensitive blood-based protein detection technology, we have developed a simple, non-invasive and accurate diagnostic solution for AD, which will greatly facilitate population-scale screening and staging of the disease.”