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Hope for Alzheimer’s and Dementia - $10,000 Raised

As I reach this milestone, there is hope on the horizon for patients with the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

Thank you to those that donated to my fundraiser for BC Alzheimer’s Society and received either a digital or hard copy of my cookbook. My passion for cooking, honoring my parents and leaving a legacy behind for my family was the driver for this labour of love.

This week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States approved the first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years. Not without controversy that is for sure, as they approved the drug based on study showing it seemed “reasonably likely” to benefit Alzheimer’s patients. Biogen’s aducanumab medication which will be marketed as Aduhelm and is the only drug the U.S. regulators have said can likely treat the underlying condition, rather than manage the symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia.

The FDA’s top drug regulators acknowledge that there are “residual uncertainties” around the drug, but said Aduhelm’s ability to reduce clumps of Aß plaque in the brain is expected to slow dementia. This drug gives patients and caregivers a choice and the FDA carefully weighed the input of people living with the devastating, debilitating and deadly disease. Under the terms of an accelerated approval, the FDA is requiring Biogen to conduct follow-up study to confirm benefits for patients.

This decision could impact the more than 6 million of American’s living with Alzheimer’s. Worldwide more than 44 millions of people are affected by it. The global burden is expected to grow as millions more baby boomers progress further into their 60s and 70s. Aducanumab (pronounced “add-yoo-CAN-yoo-mab”) helps clear a protein called beta-amyloid from the brain. The new medicine is manufactured from living cells and will be given via infusion at a doctor’s office or hospital.

Researchers don’t fully understand the cause of Alzheimer’s but there’s broad agreement brain plaque is just one contributor. Evidence suggests family history, education, and chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease may also play a role. This is a sign of hope but not the final answer. Patients taking aducanumab saw thinking skills decline 22% more slowly than patients taking a placebo. But it is still unclear how such metrics translate into practical benefits, like greater independence or ability to recall important details.

Biogen halted two studies in 2019 after disappointing results showed the drug didn’t meet its goal of slowing mental and functional decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Several months later a new analysis showed the drug was effective when higher doses were administered. Scientists said the drug’s initial failure was due to patients not receiving enough of the drug to slow the disease. For those already on the drug trials, this decision has given them hope they will continue to slow down the disease and are extremely happy with the results.

Patients living with Alzheimer’s were asked if there is a drug that has the possibility to slow down the disease would you take it. Most said, give Aduhelm to me now. Hope is a good thing and we take it were we can.

Here in Canada researchers are studying Aß oligomers (AßOs) as the causative agent not the Aß plaque. However isolating the toxic oligomer is tough to do, which is generating next-generation of Alzheimer’s disease therapies that can offer highly precise targeting of AßOs, supporting safer, more effective treatment in wake of aducanumab’s approval. Preclinical data demonstrates that next-generation AßO–targeting drug candidates have greater therapeutic potency compared with Aß–directed antibodies.

In the meantime Alzheimer Society of Canada is urging Health Canada to complete its review of aducanumab swiftly, while maintaining the highest safety standards, so that aducanumab can be made available to people living with dementia in Canada as soon as possible.

The society believes that over the next 10 years, more than 1 million people in Canada will be living with dementia. The approval of aducanumab underscores how investing in research can lead to better treatment options. Research for Alzheimer’s’ disease and other dementias is significantly underfunded compared to other diseases. There is an urgent need to invest in research so people living with this disease have better treatments. However more importantly, research investment is crucial in finding cures for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Even though I’ve reached my initial goal of raising $10,000 for this cause, it is only a drop in the bucket to what is needed. Therefore my goal is to continue to promote the cookbook fundraiser and hopefully we can raise more money to help find treatments and a cure. Please share my fundraiser and let’s kick Alzheimer’s butt.

Be well everyone!

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