Amyloid or not: early detection is what matters

United States health officials have approved the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in 20 years. Aducanumab, which targets aggregated forms of Amyloid beta (Aβ) found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, was developed by American biotechnology company Biogen, and approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 7 June 2021.

Although no studies have shown that the drug was effective in reversing cognitive decline, one study has shown that it could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

And this appears to be consistent across the experiences of the clinical trial participants.

Trial participants only saw benefits during early stages of decline

Geri Taylor and Debi Rosenktrantz first enrolled in the clinical trial of Aducanumab (commercial name: Aduhelm) in 2015. However, both of them and other participants were taken off of treatment when Biogen and its partner Eisai abruptly halted aducanumab’s two Phase 3 trials in March 2019 following a “futility analysis.”

Geri’s husband, Jim Taylor, pointed out that during the period between 2015-2019 before the trial was interrupted, Geri declined very slowly. While it was unclear if it was really the drug that was helping, it was evident that Geri was able to maintain normal daily activities and take care of herself well.

Like Geri, Debi appeared to be benefitting from the drug: she felt like she was remembering better. She completed testing twice—once when she was diagnosed and again a full year later—results showed no decline at all over the span of the year. Debi’s wife, Susan Woskie, also shared that she did not notice any significant decline during that time; it seemed like Aducanumab was having a positive effect.

Unfortunately, the improvements Geri and Debi experienced stopped once they were taken off the drug.

During the period that they were taken off treatment, both of them experienced greater decline. When doing the tests again, Debi could feel that she did not have the same memories. Jim also noted that even though Geri had gotten back on Aducanumab, the drug did not seem to help in reversing the cognitive decline.

The million dollar question: Is beta-amyloid removal the answer to Alzheimer’s Disease?

Aducanumab helps clear an accumulated protein called beta-amyloid from the brain. Though commonly agreed that the existence of large amounts of beta-amyloid in the brain is likely to be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease, other experimental drugs which are designed to work in a similar fashion have made no difference in patients’ ability to think, care for themselves or live independently.

Perhaps beta-amyloid removal is the answer, or maybe it is not. Studies have also shown that there is no correlation between the presence of beta-amyloid in the brain and cognitive decline. Furthermore, many people have beta-amyloid in their brain and still do not develop dementia.

Our view at Savonix: Early detection is the first step to fighting cognitive decline

Regardless of whether beta-amyloid removal is the cure for Alzhemimer’s disease, one thing is for certain: it is wonderful news that Aduhelm appears to work better during the earlier stages of cognitive decline. This agrees with the widely held belief that early detection is key to fighting cognitive decline.

Why is early detection so important?

At Savonix, we believe that prevention is better than cure. It is much easier to stop something happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has occurred.

By detecting mild cognitive impairment (MCI), individuals can be empowered to take the right steps to offset or reverse risk—before severe, irreversible deterioration of the brain occurs.

Some of the simpler lifestyle changes that can be made include incorporating more omega-3 into our diet, getting our heart pumping with exercise or consuming brain health supplements.

And this is why we worked with leading neuropsychologists to develop the Savonix Mobile, a clinically valid and easy-to-use cognition assessment tool. Results are shared instantaneously and assessments can be taken on any mobile device from anywhere in the world.

Our goal is to help individuals understand where their brain health is at and empower them to reduce or delay their risk of developing dementia. We do so by:

  1. Offering personalized recommendations on how they can change their lifestyle habit
  2. Providing locally available resources where they can work with our evidence-based partners

What are your thoughts on early detection? Drop us a message if you would like to chat more about how we can partner on this journey of early detection.