New Alzheimer’s treatment approved by FDA after clinical trial at UK

New Alzheimer’s treatment approved by FDA after clinical trial at UK
Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 4:01 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The FDA has approved a new Alzheimer’s-slowing drug called Leqembi.

WKYT spoke with the director of the clinical trial, Dr. Greg Jicha, which took place at the University of Kentucky’s Center on Aging.

“Now we can really put into motion new ways to help our patients with Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Jicha, a neurologist with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. “This is the beginning. This is the first crack in the wall.”

While it’s not a cure, Leqembi removes amyloids from the brain, which contribute to memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s.

“The goal of the medicine is to keep people doing well, like Dr. Jackson. Three years later, he’s doing pretty darn good,” said Dr. Jicha.

Dr. Jim Jackson, accompanied by his wife Sharon, was a patient in the 18-month clinical trial, which found the drug to reduce progression by 27% to 40%.

“Being a physician myself, down through the years, I’ve come to realize that, you know, that’s the important thing, improving life for everyone,” said Dr. Jackson.

Dr. Jicha says Leqembi can be used from the onset of memory issues until Alzheimer’s affects a person’s daily functions, like getting dressed.

Those on blood thinners are at a heightened risk for brain swelling and microscopic hemorrhages.

However, unlike current Alzheimer’s medications, Leqembi attacks the root of the disease rather than mitigate its symptoms.

“This is the first medicine ever that actually changes the disease in the brain, removes a component of the disease, and can extend quality of life for patients who are developing and who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Jicha.

Now, with FDA approval, Leqembi will be more widely available.

“The stars have aligned for us to really begin to impact Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Jicha.

For those that qualify to take Leqembi, it could now be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurers with the possibility of a co-pay depending on coverage plans.