Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s Drug That Slows Symptoms Of The Fatal Disease May Be Less Effective For Black Patients

Scientists have been hard at work pushing promising treatment of Alzheimer’s through the drug Leqembi and more; however, results show they are less effective for Black patients.

According to NBCBlk, the drugs aid in removing a toxic protein—beta-amyloid—from the brain, but Black patients often have other risk factors that contribute more commonly to their battle with the disease.

Leqembi and donanemab are the first of their kind to help slow the mental decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Still, scientists worry that those most at-risk have not been considered by those developing the potentially life-changing treatments. Twenty percent of older Black people are said to have early symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, a rate double that of their white counterparts.

Racial disparities in diagnoses and treatment have recently become key factors in fatality for people of color suffering from cognitive diseases. Could it be that even a modern medical miracle contains implicit bias?

According to NBCBlk, nearly 50% of Black patients who volunteered for clinical trials of Leqembi were turned away because they failed to possess a high enough concentration of amyloid. Of 947 people enrolled in the U.S. version of the trial, only 43 participants were Black, although the community makes up the most Alzheimer’s cases. “We need to know what the other pathologies are beyond amyloid that leads to dementia in Black people, and how risk factors, especially socially constructed risk factors, relate to those pathologies,” Dr. Lisa Barnes of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Chicago said.

The findings from the trial have led researchers to believe that there needs to be an even more concerted effort across the industry to effectively determine how and why the percentage of Black patients suffering from cognitive diseases continues to rise. “Is it that it’s not Alzheimer’s disease? Is something else causing their cognitive problems across all these studies? Is it that the biomarkers don’t quite work the same in those communities, or is it something else that we’re not able to measure?” Dr. Joshua Grill, a University of California, Irvine, Alzheimer’s researcher, said.