The Approval of Aducanumab

The Approval of Aducanumab

Produced from ‘Biogen’, on June 7, 2021, U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug, Aducanumab. This is the first approved treatment for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003, bringing humanity one step closer to curing Alzheimer’s. 

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.  There are over 100 different diseases that cause dementia with about 60% of people living with dementia having the most common form, Alzheimer’s disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, andAccording to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2021. Seventy-two percent are 75 or older.

This is majorly due to the rapid growth of the elderly population. However, Alzheimer’s isn’t only for the elders. About 5% to 6% of people with Alzheimer’s disease develop symptoms before age 65. 

There are a lot of theories towards Alzheimer’s disease, but the most recent theory is that it is due to beta-amyloid accumulating on nerve cells. Beta-amyloid is a substance that everyone has, but as we grow older, the amount of beta-amyloid gets larger and it sticks as a “plaque” on the nerve cells. The heartbreaking news is that Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease where there are only drugs that relieve symptoms and no specific cure method. 

There was a drug that was approved in 2003, which was a ‘cholinergic enzyme’ inhibitor that maintained the amount of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are the molecules used by the nervous system to transmit messages between neurons, or from neurons to muscles. This drug only temporarily improved cognitive function in order to slow down the process. 

Aducanumab is a bit different. It is focused on removing the beta-amyloids, which are the causes of Alzheimer’s. It is the first treatment to receive clinical approval from the FDA.

Even though there are still small talks going within this new treatment, it is very delightful news to hear how a lot of companies are working towards solving Alzheimer’s. Aducanumab is the only disease-modifying medication currently approved to treat Alzheimer’s. This proves how humans have grown one step closer to treating Alzheimer’s disease in the rapid growth of the elderly population.