Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Pros Rejoice: A New Alzheimer’s Drug May Slow Mental DeclineNovember 29, 2016
It is estimated by the Alzheimer Society of Canada that about 564,000 Canadians will suffer from dementia in 2016. Medical professionals will diagnose an additional 25,000 cases every single year, and by 2031 it is believed the number of patients suffering from dementia will rise to 937,000. Dementia is a huge problem not only in Canada, but across the globe. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any significant scientific breakthroughs that could slow the progress of the disease—until now.
If you’re a student enrolled in a pharmaceutical program, you may understand the groundbreaking impact this scientific breakthrough could bring to dementia patients. Keep reading to learn more about the new dementia drug Aducanumab.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Explained for Students in a Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Program
Alzheimer’s disease is the largest subset of dementia. Although science isn’t completely sure of its cause, it is believed to have a correlation to a sticky plaque-like protein, amyloid, that builds up in the patient’s brain. When Amyloid proteins in the brain clump together, this can cause problems. In a healthy brain the body naturally breaks down the clumps, but a brain suffering from dementia doesn’t.
The buildup blocks the brain’s neurons from firing messages to each other. This halts communication and memories, and can eventually make it impossible for the patient to perform basic functions. Eventually, the lack of communication causes an irreversible breakdown of the brain’s tissue.
Aducanumab Explained for Students in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Programs
Researchers developed the drug Aducanumab by testing various human immune cells, looking for an antibody with the unique ability to break up the plaque. They discovered miraculous y-shaped proteins that could latch onto dangerous substances in the body (like brain plaque) and flag them so that a patient’s immune system could easily target and destroy them. Once researchers made this initial breakthrough, they cloned the antibody and made it into a treatment. The drug is given intravenously once a month to study participants.
The Drug’s Effects Offer New Hope for Dementia Patients
As you will learn during your pharmaceutical quality assurance courses, there are three clinical trial phases. Currently, Aducanumab is finishing its second phase and is entering phase three. In phase two, 166 patients received the drug. In the next phase, it will be more widely tested so researchers can determine a more accurate assessment of the drug’s effects. However, the results so far have been promising.
Scientists provided participants with a placebo or a varying dosage of the drug over 54 weeks. Participants with the highest dosage of the drug experienced slowed mental decline, and scans revealed the plaque in their brains shrunk and almost disappeared. Those who received the placebo worsened over the course of the study.
As you may learn during your pharmaceutical quality assurance diploma program, when drugs are in clinical trials, their side effects are closely monitored and recorded. One side effect discovered during these early trials is that 22 per cent of participants who received the drug experienced headaches. Also, participants who had genetic markers of dementia and who received higher doses of the drug experienced slight brain swelling.
Students of Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance May Experience Dementia Treatment History
Medical professionals are extremely hopeful about Aducanumab’s potential. The Head of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, Dr. James Pickett, says that “No existing treatments for Alzheimer’s directly interfere with the disease process—and so a drug that actually slows the progress of the disease by clearing amyloid would be a significant step.”
The drug is set to move on to phase three of clinical trials. If proven effective in larger sample sizes, it could become a licensed drug and begin treating patients in the future. With such incredible medical advancements on the horizon, it’s an exciting time to become a part of the pharmaceutical industry!
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