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01 June 2021

New drug to tackle Alzheimer's disease could be available on the NHS by next year

Regulators in the US are set to approve Aducanumab - developed by multi-national biotech firm Biogen - in the coming days. The drug helps untangle clusters of plaque in the brain, suggesting it could stop the progression of the disease.

Around one million Britons are affected by Alzheimer's, which slowly destroys memory, thinking skills and the ability to carry out the simplest of tasks.

Celebrities including EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor, US President Ronald Reagan and World Cup winning footballer Ray Wilson all suffered from it.

Clinical trials found that patients given Aducanumab showed an improvement in language skills and capacity to keep track of time. Those using the drug also saw a slower loss of memory.

The medicines currently available to treat Alzheimer's only hide the symptoms of the disease and cannot slow its development. If the drug is given the okay by regulators in the US next week, the UK could follow soon after.

Once the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approve Aducanumab, it could take around a year for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to provide it for free on the NHS. This relies on the drug being fast tracked, similar to the Covid-19 vaccines.

Director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK Dr Susan Kohlaas said the drug provided “huge hope” - and urged the regulatory body to push ahead with the sped-up approval process without the usual administrative delays.

Dr Kohlaas told The Daily Mirror, “There is huge hope in dementia research now. It's really important that we start to see the first disease modifying therapies for dementia come through. This could be a really important step in changing the whole research field.”

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