Last month, in a story for the New York Times Magazine, the writer David Wallace-Wells suggested we might be on the verge of “The Golden Age for Medicine.” Decades of research rubber is finally meeting the road, with new vaccines, cancer treatments, weight-loss drugs, and gene therapy suddenly arriving on the scene. (He also wrote the climate alarm-ringing NYT bestseller The Uninhabitable Earth, so his optimism must be earned.)
The latest advance? A new drug shows promising results in treating Alzheimer’s, as the BBC reported on July 17. In a study of 1,736 people with early-stage Alzheimer’s, half of the participants received a monthly infusion of donanemab for 18 months. The drug cleared enough brain amyloid plaques (a component of Alzheimer’s that can disrupt cell function) in half of donanemab participants, who stopped treatment after a year.
Compared to patients on the placebo, those on the treatment “retained more of their day-to-day lives such as being able to discuss current events, answer the phone or pursue hobbies.” As the study notes, there are limited effective treatments for Alzheimer’s, so these findings, while preliminary, are incredibly exciting.
Currently, 40% of Alzheimer’s and related dementia cases can be prevented or delayed, according to the CDC. This latest development will hopefully raise that stat higher.
“This is truly a turning point in the fight against Alzheimer’s and science is proving that it is possible to slow down the disease,” the Alzheimer’s Society told the BBC.