The first new treatment for dementia, for nearly two decades, has been approved by US regulators.
It means the drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the most common forms of dementia, could also be approved for use in the UK.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a recent re-analysis of patient data revealed that the drug, known as aducanumab, could slow the decline of memory and cognitive skills and improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.
This analysis comes after two previous trials in 2019, which got cancelled after the treatment appeared to stop working.
Patients in the US will now receive the new treatment as part of a “phase four trial”, meaning participants will undergo heavy monitoring to test the drug’s efficacy.
Experts believe that aducanumab targets the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease – a build-up of proteins known as amyloids.
Commenting on the announcement, charities described the news as a “major milestone” in dementia research and prevention.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “Today’s decision by the FDA marks a pivotal moment in the search for life-changing new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Aducanumab will be the first-ever drug to reach patients in the US that tackles the underlying disease process itself. The findings of these additional studies could pave the way for a new generation of life-changing drug treatments.
“People with dementia and their families have been waiting far too long for life-changing new treatments. It is now essential that regulatory authorities here, assess the evidence to decide whether they believe the drug is safe and effective for use in the UK. Alzheimer’s Research UK has today written to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock calling on the government to prioritise and accelerate this process, to give people with Alzheimer’s the answers they need as quickly as possible.”
According to the latest statistics, there are currently around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. The Alzheimer’s Society suggests this will increase to 1.6 million by 2040.
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