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USC conducting research trials for new Alzheimer’s medication


Closing in mystery of disease

Brain diseases are a mystery to the medical field. Most often they’re incurable, and once symptoms begin to show, the only two options are to slow the process and experience more pain or naturally let the disease take over and become a vegetable over time. Well, the news is coming out that a clinical trial at USC is happening to test a drug that would possibly delay or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The antibody tested is Lecanemab, but the brand name will be called Leqembi. The treatment is FDA-approved but is under a special sanction  called “accelerated approval.” The reason for the accelerated approval is they are still testing and viewing the effect of the antibodies on the Neuropathology caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

USC’s Dr. Lon Schneider, one of the researchers at the clinical trial, talks about some of the things researchers are looking for during the testing. “This drug, once released to the public, will serve the purpose of cognitive impairment for people who already have Alzheimer’s disease or for people showing signs of memory loss,” Schneider said in explaining why the drug is being tested only on people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. “We are taking Lecanemab and testing it on people who have the biology evidence of Alzheimer’s disease through the blood test we conduct, which will allow us to get a prediction on whether or not this person will develop the amyloid of Alzheimer’s disease.”  An amyloid plaque is an extracellular deposit of the amyloid beta (AB) protein mainly in the grey matter of the brain.

Schneider said that upon discovery, that the person has amyloid plaque, they would then get that person a pet scan to see how advanced the brain changes are, if any. Schneider also states that people can have amyloid plaques but show no symptoms or brain change to determine whether or not a treatment is needed. “People can have amyloid plaques for a decade or so before they start showing symptoms, that’s why studying and testing the neuropathology is important during these testing,” Schneider said.

The antibody Lecanemab attaches itself to the amyloid plaques (aggregates of “misfolded” proteins) in the brain and reduces them. Amyloid plaques form by neuron loss and lack of amino protein in the brain, which can lead to the cause of brain disease and memory loss.  Lecanemab is available for sale but is not covered by most insurance and Medicaid because it was classified with an accelerated approval designation. Once the testing is done, the researchers will bring their results to a board for final approval, which then would be available nationwide to the public as it will be designated as an FDA-approved drug and in the same classification as other prescription drugs that treat disease.

If you are concerned about your brain or cognitive health, you can visit this link to learn more about the Ahead Study, how to sign up, and be a part of clinical trials.