Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to memory loss and other cognitive issues, and Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. As many as 80% of dementia cases are Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that worsens over time. While early-stage Alzheimer’s may cause mild memory loss, late-stage Alzheimer’s disease can diminish your ability to converse and respond to your environment.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer's, but new treatment options, such as anti-amyloid agents like Lecanemab and Donanemab, can slow the progression and improve quality of life.
As a top-ranked neurologist, Lenny Cohen, MD, stays up-to-date with the newest treatments, including Lecanemab and Donanemab. Read on to learn about Alzheimer's dementia and how these newly approved medications can help.
What causes Alzheimer’s dementia?
Alzheimer’s dementia stems from the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits in your brain, primarily beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Beta-amyloid plaques are particularly problematic because they are "sticky" (from a chemistry point of view), which means pieces of plaque can “stick” together and form clumps and cause problems. These clumps:
- Block cell-to-cell signaling at synapses
- Activate immune system cells that trigger inflammation
- The inflammation destroys disabled cells
Tau tangles are also problematic. They destroy an important cellular transport system in your brain. Without a well-functioning cellular transport system, nutrients can’t move through your cells, so the cells die.
These plaque deposits and tau tangles lead to brain cell death, memory loss, cognitive decline, and behavioral changes.
All about anti-amyloid agents
Anti-amyloid agents are part of the problem in Alzheimer’s disease, and targeting them is part of the solution. Anti-amyloid agents work by targeting the beta-amyloid plaques.
According to a 2023 study published in Molecular Neurodegeneration, phase 3 clinical trials revealed that anti-amyloid agents, such as Lecanemab and Donanemab, slowed cognitive and functional decline in study participants with active Alzheimer’s dementia symptoms.
Lecanemab is a monoclonal antibody designed to remove beta-amyloid plaques from the brain. A monoclonal antibody is a manufactured antibody produced in the laboratory by cloning a single type of immune cell, specifically a B cell, to generate many identical antibodies.
Lecanemab is administered intravenously and may involve monitoring for side effects. It’s suited for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lecanemab under the brand name Leqembi; lecanemab-irmb is the main ingredient in Leqsebi.
Donanemab is an immunoglobulin G1 monoclonal antibody that targets beta-amyloid plaques. Donanemab has shown promise in clinical trials by:
- Reducing amyloid plaque levels
- Reducing the accumulation of tau levels
- Slowing cognitive decline
Donanemab is also administered intravenously.
Lifestyle modifications to complement medication
In addition to these anti-amyloid agents, ongoing research explores various treatment modalities, including lifestyle interventions, occupational therapy, environmental and task modification, and combination treatments. These approaches aim to provide a holistic and personalized approach to Alzheimer’s care 一 and it’s an approach we value here at Chicago Neurological Services.
If you’re concerned about Alzheimer’s dementia in a loved one, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Cohen. To learn more about these new treatment options for Alzheimer's dementia, call the Chicago Neurological Services location of your choice 一 Roscoe Village or Oak Park, Illinois 一 or book an appointment online to get started.