Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. In the pursuit of effective treatments, a new medication called Lecanemab, also known as Leqembi, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In this blog, we will explore what Lecanemab is, how it works, its eligibility criteria, and its benefits in slowing the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Lecanemab (Leqembi)?
Lecanemab, manufactured by Eisai and Biogen, is a humanized monoclonal antibody used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It binds with high affinity to soluble amyloid-beta protofibrils, which are known to be more toxic to neurons than other forms of amyloid protein.
How Lecanemab Works Researchers conducted a phase 3 clinical trial called Clarity-AD, the results of which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2022. The trial showed that Lecanemab produced a modest yet significant benefit in individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Compared to a placebo, the medication slowed the rate of cognitive decline over 18 months and reduced the levels of brain amyloid.
Who Can Benefit from Lecanemab? Lecanemab, or Leqembi, is specifically intended for individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, including those with:
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease: This stage is characterized by mild symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion that do not significantly interfere with daily life.
Mild Alzheimer’s Dementia: At this stage, individuals may experience difficulty with familiar tasks and keeping track of bills, which begins to impact their daily life.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease and Amyloid Proteins Alzheimer’s disease is associated with the accumulation of a protein called amyloid in the brain. Initially, small forms of amyloid protein clump together to create larger forms that can damage brain cells. Over time, these amyloid proteins build up and can lead to the formation of harmful amyloid brain plaques, contributing to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.
The Lecanemab Infusion Process
Lecanemab is administered through intravenous (IV) fusion, meaning the medication is delivered through a needle placed in a vein in the patient’s arm. Each infusion session typically takes about 1 hour and is given once every 2 weeks. Patients should make an effort not to miss any scheduled infusions. These infusions are typically administered at a healthcare provider’s office or an infusion center.
Medicare Coverage for Lecanemab (Leqembi) The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare will provide broad coverage for Lecanemab for eligible individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia, with documented evidence of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. To receive Medicare coverage, individuals need to be enrolled in Medicare and have a physician who participates in a qualifying registry with appropriate clinical and follow-up care.
It is essential to note that Lecanemab is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. While it has shown promising results in clinical trials, its long-term effectiveness and potential side effects still require further research and monitoring. As with any medication, it is crucial for patients and their caregivers to discuss the benefits and risks with their healthcare providers to make informed decisions. As we move forward, it is vital to continue raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and supporting research initiatives. By coming together as a community, we can foster hope and progress toward improved care, better outcomes, and, ultimately, a future without Alzheimer’s disease.
If you or someone you know is dealing with Alzheimer’s, remember that you are not alone. Reach out to healthcare professionals and support networks to access the resources and guidance needed to navigate this challenging journey with compassion and strength. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.