Columbus Memory Center, patients react to FDA approval of Alzheimer’s drug

Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 10:46 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The first and only treatment shown to lower the rate of the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease is now fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug, Leqembi, was evaluated through clinical trials across the US with nearly 860 patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Jonathan Liss with the Columbus Memory Center says for 30 years, he’s worked towards the day where there is a medication available to not only slow down Alzheimer’s, but truly change the path of the disease.

“The cornerstone of Alzheimer’s disease is the layering of a bad protein that we call Beta Amyloid in the brain, and this drug actually removes Beta Amyloid from the brain,” says Jonathan.

Leqembi is a newly FDA approved treatment designed for people living with early stage Alzheimer’s and prodromal or “not there yet” Alzheimer’s stage. It gives the patient more time with a good memory.

“For each of those two groups, It will keep them in that category for an extra two and a half to three years above what they otherwise would have been. So imagine if you’re 85-years-old, which is about half the people that get this disease or 85 and above, we might be able to keep them in an early stage of disease for an extra four to five years. For some people that will be a cure,” says Jonathan.

Columbus internationally ranks third in enrollment for the two pivotal Leqembi trials, with 72 patients screened. One of them is 75-year-old Charles Clegg, who many know as “Bum”

“I would encourage you to do it for the simple reason, ‘what do you got to lose?’ Carol said she could see improvements on me during the clinical trial,” says Clegg.

“I found out it came down to the point that the FDA would approve it I was extremely excited,” says wife of Clark Clegg, Carol.

News Leader 9′s Gabriela Johnson sat down with Colonel John House and his wife Marilyn who lives with Alzheimer’s. House says participation not only put Columbus on the map, but makes sure the right drug is approved.

“There is hope, it’s not time to give up, and Leqembi, as we know, the earlier it’s used the more it will help. It’s important to understand that Marilyn is still Marilyn and all those other people suffering with it are still who they were,” says House.

Dr. Liss shared her thoughts about the new medicine.

“I need people to get excited, and I need people to stop by the Columbus Memory Center and say I want to get involved because together, we can make even the next jump the next big history making moment,” says Liss.

In eight or nine months, there will be a second drug coming to the market to help with the fight of this deadly disease. Which means another trial that Dr. Liss is encouraging people of color to participate in.