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University of Rochester involved in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s drug

Government health officials have approved a drug for certain patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The University of Rochester has contributed to the research and is involved with current trials happening in the area.

The approval comes with strings attached and there are questions about its effectiveness. While it’s the only drug in the U.S. that can likely treat the underlying disease of Alzheimer’s, the FDA concluded the results to only be “reasonably likely” when benefitting patients.

Clinical trials are showing different things, in some cases the drug not working and in others the drug showing an impact on patients in earlier stages of the disease.

The drug, Aducanumab, is intravenous and given once a month. The drug maker, Biogen, partnered with URMC to work on some late stage trials in Rochester and some patients are still involved in the trials.

The difference between current drugs that combat anxiety and insomnia in Alzheimer’s patients is that Aducanumab works to stop the protein buildup in the brain that is shown in Alzheimer’s patients.

Evidence is showing that patients with early symptoms or who may not know they even have it are likely to benefit the most. The issue lies with obtaining a $10,000 brain scan that is not covered by insurance in order to see if a patient has it.

The drug also has some possible negative side effects like brain swelling and bleeding.

Further studies need to be done in order for full FDA approval, but health officials are optimistic because there has not been a positive drug or trial for the disease in the last 20 years of studies.