New dementia drug ‘has given me hope’: Alzheimer’s sufferers reveal their tales

New dementia drug ‘has given me hope’: Alzheimer’s sufferers reveal their tales

The primary new Alzheimer’s treatment in 20 years was given full FDA approval earlier this month — and now two sufferers who participated within the scientific trials have spoken about their private expertise with the drug to Fox Information Digital.

Lecanemab, bought below the model identify Leqembi, works by lowering amyloid plaques within the mind, which is without doubt one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

In early trials, the drug was proven to gradual cognitive decline by 27%.


Two Ohio sufferers who participated within the trials lately spoke to Fox Information Digital about how Leqembi has impacted their Alzheimer’s journeys — and altered their lives.

Joan Murtaugh’s story: ‘It’s not a miracle, but it surely’s gradual progress’

Joan Murtaugh, 77, lives in Lakewood, Ohioalong with her husband, Larry.

She first began noticing reminiscence issues almost seven years in the past, simply after her seventieth birthday.

“Timing is all the pieces,” her husband, Larry Murtaugh, instructed Fox Information Digital in an interview. “It was Joan who made an appointment on the mind heart clinic.”

In 2017, Murtaugh was recognized with delicate cognitive impairment.

The subsequent yr, after having a 3-D MRI and spinal faucet, she discovered that she had an enzyme in her spinal fluid that predicted a 65% probability of getting Alzheimer’s in her lifetime.

Two Ohio sufferers who participated within the trials spoke to Fox Information Digital about how Leqembi has impacted their Alzheimer’s journeys. On the left, affected person Joan Murtaugh is pictured with husband Larry Murtaugh; on the correct, affected person John Domeck is proven with spouse Ann Domeck. (Joan & Larry Murtaugh/John & Ann Domeck)

In February 2020, Murtaugh acquired some good news: She was eligible to take part in a double-blind research trial for a brand new drug, Leqembi, at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

“I assume it was as a result of it was apparent there was some plaque in my mind, which they realized was inflicting Alzheimer’s,” Murtaugh instructed Fox Information Digital.

This was Part 3 of the scientific trial, which included some 1,800 individuals worldwide. Murtaugh was one among solely eight individuals to obtain the drug at Cleveland Clinic.

“I’m absolutely practical — I’m nonetheless doing all the pieces I all the time did.”

Just a few months later, she started getting twice-monthly infusions of what was both a drug or a placebo.


To at the present time, Murtaugh nonetheless doesn’t know if she was getting the true factor or a placebo — she received’t discover out till the final individual has acquired the final dose of the double-blind research. But she mentioned she “has a hunch.”

“I’m absolutely practical — I’m nonetheless doing all the pieces I all the time did,” Murtaugh mentioned.

“I can nonetheless drive my automobile, shop, garden, cook, read — all these issues.”

“Timing is all the pieces,” husband Larry Murtaugh instructed Fox Information Digital in an interview concerning the Alzheimer’s prognosis of his spouse, Joan Murtaugh. (Joan & Larry Murtaugh)

All through all the trial interval, Murtaugh mentioned she by no means received any worse. She simply skilled the identical delicate signs she’d had earlier than beginning the drug — and he or she could have even improved a bit.

Though Leqembi has been linked to some potential uncomfortable side effects, she skilled none.

“Whenever you first hear the phrase ‘Alzheimer’s,’ a chill goes by you — it’s such as you’re trying right into a darkish abyss,” Murtaugh mentioned.

“However this new drug presents nice hope.”


In September 2021, the trial portion of the research ended and Murtaugh was eligible to begin receiving the actual medicationwhich she nonetheless takes as we speak.

As a substitute of the prolonged infusions, she now will get the medicine through an EpiPen injection as soon as every week with the assistance of her husband.

The drug is presently lined by Medicare, which suggests Murtaugh will get it without cost — and he or she hopes that can proceed for the foreseeable future.

Whereas the Murtaughs notice that the long run could deliver challenges, they regard Leqembi as “a ray of sunshine in a really cloudy sky.”

All through all the trial interval, Joan Murtaugh, proven right here, mentioned she by no means received any worse; she mentioned she simply skilled the identical delicate signs she’d had earlier than beginning the drug. (Joan Murtaugh)

Paired with different approaches reminiscent of cognitive speech remedy, they’re optimistic that the drug will proceed to maintain Alzheimer’s signs at bay.

“We’re not going to declare victory, however we’re on the correct path and we have now the correct workforce at Cleveland Clinic,” mentioned Larry Murtaugh.

“It’s not a miracle, but it surely’s gradual progress.”

John Domeck’s story: ‘I thank God each day’

A retired lawyer in Aurora, Ohio, John Domeck was simply 57 years previous when he was recognized with Alzheimer’s.

The individuals round him — his colleagues on the legislation workplace and his household at dwelling — began noticing his reminiscence lapses earlier than he did.

After 30 years of by no means having to take many notes at work, Domeck, now 61, had began to put in writing issues right down to keep away from forgetting them.

“Alzheimer’s type of rocked our world, and this drug rocked it again a little bit bit the opposite manner.”

“Over time, I wasn’t in a position to proceed doing as a lot work as rapidly as I as soon as did,” he instructed Fox Information Digital throughout an interview.

His spouse of 40 years, Ann Domeck, had additionally began noticing some crimson flags at dwelling, however mentioned the very last thing they anticipated was Alzheimer’s illness.

The Domecks made an appointment at Cleveland Clinic for some cognitive testing, which led to a spinal faucet and, in the end, an Alzheimer’s prognosis in July 2019.

John Domeck, a retired lawyer in Aurora, Ohio (second from left), was simply 57 when he was recognized with Alzheimer’s. He is pictured right here together with his household. (John & Ann Domeck)

Domeck’s spouse, a TV information producer in Cleveland, left her job to assist look after her husband.

Given Domeck’s younger age and early-stage decline, a Cleveland Clinic physician instructed him he was the right candidate for a scientific trial for a brand new Alzheimer’s drug.

For 18 months, Domeck went in for twice-monthly infusions, which lasted as much as six hours per session — with out figuring out whether or not he was getting the drug or the placebo.

A yr in the past, he was switched to the “open-label” Leqembi medicine, which he takes through injection at dwelling as soon as every week.


The Domecks suspect that John has been on the drug all the time, as he has not declined a lot in any respect previously 4 years.

“Everybody’s like, he needed to have been getting it earlier than — he is doing so properly,” Ann Domeck mentioned. “His cognitive deficits have solely elevated minimally. After 4 years of Alzheimer’s, his scores ought to be lots decrease.”

“The truth that he’s nonetheless in a position to preserve his day-to-day activities and do the issues that he enjoys is simply so promising,” she added.

John Domeck is pictured right here getting an infusion of both the Alzheimer’s drug or the placebo in the course of the scientific trial. (John Domeck)

“John will get up and drives and golfs and reads each day,” she mentioned. “He received to see our son get married, and we’re planning to visit our daughter in Europe.”

All through the method, the Domecks mentioned they’ve been “astounded” by the compassion and help of their care workforce at Cleveland Clinic.

“They’re professionals, and so they know their stuff about Alzheimer’s, however they’re additionally among the nicest individuals we have ever met,” Ann Domeck mentioned.

Whereas the couple perceive that Leqembi shouldn’t be a treatment, they’re extra optimistic now than they had been a couple of years in the past.

“Taking this drug is a long-term dedication.”

“Alzheimer’s type of rocked our world, and this drug type of rocked it again a little bit bit the opposite manner,” mentioned Ann Domeck.

After initially being “shell-shocked” by the surprising prognosis, the Domecks really feel that the drug has given them time they had been instructed to not anticipate.

I thank God each day that we received on this trial,” Ann Domeck mentioned. “It is the very best factor that is occurred to us.”

What to find out about Leqembi

Whereas it is the primary Alzheimer’s drug to obtain full FDA approval in 20 years, Leqembi can be the primary medicine to focus on the underlying illness and never simply the signs, defined Dylan Wint, M.D., director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Middle for Mind Well being in The Vegas, Nevada.

Leqembi is accepted just for the therapy of delicate cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer’s for individuals who have been proven to have amyloid plaques within the mind.

John Domeck (far proper) is pictured together with his household at his daughter’s school commencement. All through the entire course of, the Domecks mentioned they’ve been “astounded” by the compassion and help of their care workforce at Cleveland Clinic. (John & Ann Domeck)

“Lecanemab labels irregular amyloid and tells the immune cells to take away these fibers from the mind,” Wint instructed Fox Information Digital.

In testing, about two-thirds of sufferers went from amyloid optimistic to amyloid damaging — and cognitive and practical decline was 27% slower for research members in comparison with these on placebo, the physician mentioned.


“Taking this drug is a long-term dedication,” mentioned Wint. “Medical doctors want to ensure the affected person can tolerate this rigorous routine — intravenous infusions each two weeks for 18 months, interspersed with MRI scans and memory testing.”

Extra care and help are wanted for individuals with reasonable and extreme Alzheimer’s illness and their households, to not point out individuals with different types of dementia, he added.

The brand new Alzheimer’s drug has enabled John Domeck (above left) to proceed to take part within the actions he enjoys. (John Domeck)

As with all medicine, lecanemab can have some uncomfortable side effects.

Mostly, it could possibly trigger numerous mind reactions, like swelling and bleeding, defined Manisha Parulekar, M.D., co-director of Hackensack College Medical Middle’s Middle for Reminiscence Loss & Mind Well being in New Jersey.

“Sufferers must cease the medicine if these modifications are famous on MRIs,” Parulekar instructed Fox Information Digital. “People who find themselves taking a number of blood thinners won’t be able to take Leqembi.”

Complications and confusion are additionally generally reported.


Now that Leqembi is absolutely accepted, Medicare will cowl the medicine, with different insurance coverage corporations more likely to observe, mentioned Parulekar.

“With out Medicare or insurance coverage, the out-of-pocket prices are round $26,000 per yr,” she famous.

Alzheimer’s illness includes many complicated elements, Wint famous, and the brand new medicine targets only one issue: amyloid.


“Whereas this new method is good news, eradicating amyloid shouldn’t be a treatment,” he mentioned.

“We nonetheless want to search out higher symptomatic and disease-modifying remedies sooner or later.”

Leqembi is best when mixed with current remedies, mentioned Wint, together with symptomatic medicines, rehabilitation and family support.

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