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New Alzheimer’s drug trial results give a Connecticut man hope

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Gales Ferry’s Bruce and Linda Meyers have been married for 45 years. It was a life of boating and travelling.

Then, 11 years ago, they discovered that Bruce had memory problems. He was 70 years old.

“It’s a frustrating illness to work with, both for Bruce and as a caregiver,” Linda said. “We were lucky that his decline is so slow.”

Bruce has participated in a total of eight Alzheimer’s drug trials. All have been unsuccessful – until now.

“He started the drug sixteen months ago and it has shown to be effective, which is exciting,” Linda said.

This drug, which Bruce is given as an IV drip twice a month at Yale, is called lecanemab. In results published in late September, it was shown to actually reduce cognitive decline by 27%. The results showed that the amount of amyloid plaque in the brain – which causes the disease – decreased.

It would be the first of its kind to show such results.

“After thinking it was my sixth infusion, I had more clarity,” Bruce said. Then with a laugh, “It’s like, oh. Oh, this thing might actually work.”

The Connecticut Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association sees this as one possible way to manage living with the disease.

“It’s not going to end the disease,” said Kristen Cusato, the chapter’s communications director. Having lost her mother to the disease, she knows the painful goodbye that so many experience from Alzheimer’s disease. “There is now a silver bullet, but it could buy these families a critical time. More time together.”

Bruce can’t believe his results, even the subtle changes. If something is important, he says, he can remember it for almost a week.

“We praise it as much as we can because people need to know there’s hope, and it looks like it’s going to be the way to go,” Linda said.

More about the drug will be known on Tuesday when the 15th Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Trials Conference will release scientific data.

An estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older will be living with Alzheimer’s by 2022. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 73% of them are 75 years or older.

Many families are hoping for potential FDA approval in early 2023, but the question remains whether insurance companies will pick it up.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a tryout for people interested in getting more information on how to become part of the extensive research and studies that are currently underway.