Many patient advocacy groups representing the 6 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are hailing the FDA’s approval of a new treatment for Alzheimer’s, aducanamab – the first since 2003. Some in the medical community have opposed the decision, arguing that the therapeutic benefit has not been established. Nevertheless, doctors may now prescribe the drug, and additional research will be needed to confirm its efficacy at slowing cognitive decline, which it appears to do, at least modestly, for some patients.
Having cared for hundreds of Alzheimer’s patients over my 40-year career and been intimately involved as a researcher since the earliest days of investigation into this disease, I understand the concerns. But I’ve firmly landed on the side of hope and excitement for what this milestone promises for the future.
Today, there are approximately 120 clinical trials underway, several of which may prove critical in combating the disease— more than half tackling a variety of aging-related pathways. This makes me very optimistic about the potential for future breakthroughs.
Alzheimer’s research has progressed dramatically in the last decade. Before then, researchers faced two challenges that set Alzheimer’s apart from, say, cancer or heart disease. First, animal models were not useful, since animals in the