LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — There’s remarkable news in Alzheimer’s research. A breakthrough medication that could help slow down the onset of memory loss and other dementia symptoms just got fast-track approval by the FDA.

“I would forget a first name or I had a number I was using just 20 minutes ago and then it would pop back and whatever,” Bob Lathrop, a drug trial patient, said.

With a family history of dementia, 68-year-old Lathrop is worried he might be on the same path. So he signed up to participate in the clinical trials of a promising new drug called lecanemab.

Lecanemab received accelerated approval from the FDA. (KLAS)

“One of the benefits of the volunteer situation is that I get really, really tested, Lathrop said with a chuckle.

He passed one of the most important tests for the study. His brain imaging showed a build-up of amyloid protein, abnormal cells doctors say can eventually trigger Alzheimer’s/dementia. lecanemab has proven to remove accumulating amyloid.

(Credit: Cleveland Clinic)

“So the thought is by removing the amyloid protein we can actually delay the progression of the disease,” neurologist Doctor Charles Bernick with the Cleveland Clinic said.

Doctor Bernick leads the Ahead Study at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas, testing patients over a lengthy treatment of lecanemab or Ban 2401 which is its clinical name. Its brand name is Leqembi.

“And then we follow them over the five years with periodic scans of the brain, tests of their memory, so we can really detect if anything’s changing,” Doctor Bernick said. “The hope is that after five years we’d have the answer that treating an individual early before they have symptoms can prevent Alzheimer’s disease/dementia.

Neurologist Dr. Charles Bernick with patient Bob Lathrop. (KLAS)

Preventing the crippling brain disease would be a miraculous breakthrough, considering there hasn’t been a new medication to help with cognitive decline in more than 20 years.

“One of the misconceptions is that it takes such a long time for drugs to get on the market because the FDA is so slow. When in fact, the real reason it takes so long for these drugs to get on the market is getting enough people to participate in these studies to see if the drug really works,” Dr. Bernick said.

“I don’t feel anything. And I still don’t know if I’m getting anything or not but I’m helping,” Lathrop said.

Dr. Bernick said he’s grateful for volunteers like Lathrop who give their time to benefit all of us but more participants are needed.

If you’d like to get involved in the Ahead Study at the Cleveland Clinic, you must be a healthy adult between the age of 55 and 80 and a non-smoker. Also, very important, participants can not have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

You can click this link for more information about the study. You can also call (702) 701-7944.