Alzheimer's drug gives hope to Israeli patients and their families

After Leqembi receives accelerated approval of the FDA medical experts say cure is a gamechanger, calling on doctors, HMOs to invest more in early detection

A recently FDA-approved drug to combat dementia has sparked hope for Israeli physicians and the families of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's and similar illnesses. Eisai and Biogen's Leqembi, was initially approved for limited use last January but on Thursday expanded the approved use of the drug to include a wider treatment of the mind-wasting illness. In medical trials, it had shown to slow symptoms by some 30%.
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"Leqembi is the first amyloid beta-directed antibody to be converted from an accelerated approval to a traditional approval for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug works by reducing amyloid plaques that form in the brain, a defining pathophysiological feature of the disease," the FDA said.
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לקמבי תרופה אלצהיימר
לקמבי תרופה אלצהיימר
Leqembi Alzheimer's medication
The drug is expected to be available in Israel in the coming weeks after receiving the approval of the Health Ministry although whether it would be included among drugs receiving coverage by health maintenance organizations (HMO) when the panel for approval of drugs next convenes, is still unclear.
Dementia is caused by a number of degenerative illnesses affecting the brain, Alzheimer being the most common among them. It manifests in a continued and irreversible diminishing of mental capacities with initial symptoms including memory loss and a change in independent thinking and orientation.
In time, the ability to carry out simple chores and to communicate is affected and behavioral changes are also observed. The illnesses can ultimately cause brain hemorrhage and a complete diminishing of all cognitive capacities.
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אלצהיימר דמנציה קשישה זקנה קשישים
אלצהיימר דמנציה קשישה זקנה קשישים
Illustration, Alzheimer's patient
(צילום: Shutterstock)
"One of the leading theories regarding the cause of dementia and Alzheimer's is the sticky amyloid plaques deposits in the brain which lead to a degenerative process and eventually to symptoms," Professor Ramit Ravona-Springer, Director of Psychogeriatric and Memory Clinic at the Sheba Medical Center, said. This is the first time a study has shown success in developing medication to fight amyloid, meeting all objectives and criteria, she said adding that the trial showed a slowing of the progression of the illness.
"This is exciting news and a breakthrough in the treatment of serious illnesses that had no cure and we are on the cusp of a revolution in the field," Prof. David Tanne, president of the Israel Neurological Association said hailing the study that found medication that can slow the degenerative process in cognitive function in Alzheimer patients in the early stages of the disease. "This is a call to doctors and HMOs to invest more resources than are currently available in an early diagnosis of patients showing a diminished cognitive capacity and if the drug receives approval from the Health Ministry, it will provide hope for patients and their families," he said.
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