New Alzheimer’s drug giving new hope to Minnesotans living with the disease

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A drug is showing strong results in global clinical trials in slowing the rate of cognitive decline, giving new hope to 99,000 Minnesotans living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Kanada Yazbek, Anoka resident, has watched Alzheimer’s disease turn family members into strangers.

“It is indescribably awful,” Yazbek said. “You can’t really understand how awful it is until you go through it.”

She’s seen the disease progress through five generations of family firsthand.

“My grandma had early onset Alzheimer’s, onset at 50 and diagnosis at 52. I was 12 years old,” Yazbek said.

Now, she’s experiencing it herself.

“I was 40 at onset and 41 there was a diagnosis. It did change my life. It shortened my life,” Yazbek said.

A drug that’s almost done with clinical trials could buy her more time.

“I did not think I would ever see this in my lifetime,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

A drug, developed by companies Biogen and Eisai, is meant to remove the protein in the brain called Amyloid. Removing the protein results in slowing down the progression of the disease. Amyloid is believed to be one of the major components of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This study showed that we can in fact make progress against the disease progression,” Dr. Ronald Petersen, Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center director, said. “This drug is the first of a class of drugs that are really going to demonstrate a meaningful change in people’s lives over time.”

Dr. Petersen said the study shows the drug would slow down disease progression by about five months.

Yazbek said the disease gives time a new meaning.

“No time is ever promised. We always just have to make the most of what we have,” she said.

The drug still has to get the green light from the FDA.

Drug company officials said the goal is to have the drug approved by the FDA and in the hands of patients by the end of 2023.