CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Doctors are working to identify patients in Charlotte eligible for the new Alzheimer’s drug that may help slow the progression of the disease.

By the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024, some of the first patients may be receiving Lecanemab. It’s an antibody intravenous infusion therapy that targets beta-amyloid in the brain.

Over the summer Food and Drug Administration regulators gave full approval to the drug to treat early Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not a cure but it’s giving medical professionals hope.

“For the longest time in dementia care, there have not been a lot of impactful medications,” said Dr. Robert Wiggins who is the Interim Director for Memory Care at Novant Neurology.

Teams within the hospital are going over the studies and zeroing in on patients who may be good candidates to receive the infusions.

“Novant is going back through the studies and our pharmacy teams are going through the studies to slowly identify the patients who will be really, really good candidates. Like a lot of medications, it’s not just for everyone. There are specific people it will be right for and we want to set up processes to make sure we’re ready,” explained Wiggins.

Lecanemab, or Leqembi, will be given by infusion under medical care and progress will be tracked. It targets amyloid which is an abnormal protein that clumps up in the brain which is one of the ways more recently that doctors can diagnose Alzheimer’s.

There’s another drug, donanemab, that’s pending FDA approval.

Clinical trials reported in July showed the drug significantly slowed cognitive and functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer’s disease. Wiggins is optimistic about the future of fighting dementia and the medical breakthroughs that could be coming soon.

“The hope is that though we know at this moment we can’t stop the progression or cure the disease hopefully what this means is more time with the loved ones we know. More high school graduations, more weddings, and more mobility and independence for families.”