NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Bruce and Linda Meyers of Gales Ferry have been married for 45 years. It’s been a life full of boating and travel.
Then, 11 years ago, they started to realize Bruce was experiencing memory issues. He was 70 years old.
“It’s a frustrating disease to work with, both for Bruce and for a caregiver too,” Linda said. “We’ve been fortunate his decline is so slow.”
Bruce has been in a total of eight Alzheimer’s drug trials. All were unsuccessful — until now.
“Sixteen months ago, he started the drug, and it’s proven effective, which is exciting,” Linda said.
That drug, given to Bruce by infusion twice a month at Yale, is called lecanemab. In findings released in late September, it was shown to actually reduce cognitive decline by 27%. Results revealed the amount of amyloid plaque in the brain — which causes the disease — declined.
That would make it the first of its kind to show such results.
“After I think it was my sixth infusion I had more clarity,” Bruce said. Then, with a laugh, “It’s like, oh. Oh, this thing may actually work”
The Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter sees this as a possible way to manage living with the disease.
“It’s not going to end the disease,” said chapter director of communications Kristen Cusato. She lost her mother to the disease, and knows the painful goodbye so many face from Alzheimer’s disease. “There’s now silver bullet, but it could give these families critical time. More time together.”
Bruce can’t believe his results, even the subtle changes. If something is important, he said he can remember it for almost a week.
“We’re singing the praises of it as much as we can, because people need to know that there’s hope and this looks like it’s going to be the right track,” Linda said.
More will be known about the drug on Tuesday, when the15th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference will be releasing scientific data.
An estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in 2022. Among those, 73% are age 75 or older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Many families are hoping for possible FDA approval in early 2023, but there are still the issue of if insurance companies will cover it.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a trial match for people interested in getting more information on becoming part of the extensive research and trials now going on.