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The First Drug That Slows Down Alzheimer's Disease May Soon Be Available To Millions Of People

The First Drug That Slows Down Alzheimer's Disease May Soon Be Available To Millions Of People

Every year, 225,000 new cases of Alzheimer's are identified. What is considered the most common neurodegenerative disease continues to gain ground: an estimated 1,275,000 patients by 2020. Currently, no cure is available on the market .

But that was not counting the major advance in the world of scientific research, an American laboratory announced a few days ago want to register a drug to reduce the clinical decline of the disease.

It was in 1906 that Dr. Alois Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died of an unusual mental illness. After examining his post-mortem brain, the doctor finds many abnormal clusters - what are now called amyloid plaques - and bundles of tangled fibers, commonly referred to as neurofibrillary tangles. The doctor had just discovered the disease that will bear his name.

alzheimer's disease

Better understand Alzheimer's disease

Although the main known risk factor is age, you should know that Alzheimer's disease is not part of aging. Indeed, statistics show that out of 850,000 patients, 8,000 to 8,500 people under 60 years of age suffer from the disease, or 1% of the patients identified. It is rare, but not impossible.

Memory loss is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and as the disease progresses, memory problems worsen and other symptoms develop, including: Difficulty managing tasks of everyday life, changes in mood and behavior, confusion or an alteration of reasoning, among other signs.

Scientists do not yet understand very well what causes Alzheimer's disease. In some people, a genetic mutation may be the cause, but researchers are still studying whether education, food and the environment can help to some extent the development of the disease.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but much can be done to help patients better understand the disease. This is the mission claimed by Biogen, an American laboratory that wants to be a pioneer in neuroscience.

A scientific breakthrough
The announcement hit the headlines this past week. Biogen, an American pharmaceutical company, has announced it will seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for aducanumab, an experimental treatment aimed at reducing the decline of Alzheimer's disease.

It must be said that the news has had the effect of a real pavement in the pond and for good reason, the pharmaceutical giant announced last March the abandonment of the tests because the results had been disappointing. But in a most unexpected turnaround, Biogen announced that a new analysis of the clinical trial data revealed that patients who had received the molecule tested at high doses had conclusive results. The laboratory therefore stated that it would file an application for a license for aducanumab to the FDA in early 2020.

Shared opinions
For Professor Bruno Dubois, director of the Institute of Alzheimer's Disease at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, this is a considerable glimmer of hope in the field of research. He explains to our colleagues from France Inter: "Since we worked on the disease, this is the first time we have a drug that acts on the lesions (...) Until then, it was a period of cows lean, we had only negative results. We are therefore moving towards perspectives that are positive again. ".

However, some experts remain skeptical. This is particularly the case of Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, who specializes in Alzheimer's disease at Duke University. He told the New York Times that the information published to date remains insufficient to comment on the subject, although they remain encouraging. Dr. Ronald Peterson of Mayo Clinic and Dr. Michael Weiner at the University of California agree. Both specialize in research on neurodegenerative disease, they confide respectively that the effectiveness of the drug has not yet convinced the FDA and that the impact on patients must still be evaluated.

For the moment, there is no question of marketing aducanumab, approval processes may take another one or two years. However, for many, this is a major advance and a sentinel in the fight against this neurodegenerative disease affecting millions of people around the world.