LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Right now, more than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

By 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association projects that the number will rise to 13 million. Last summer, the FDA approved the first-ever drug that is offering hope to millions of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

There is still no cure for the fatal brain disease. But, Lecanemab slows its progression and offers those afflicted in the early stages three things: the chance to make more memories, time, and the hope of even more effective treatments down the road. FOX5 met one of those patients and learned how fate brought him to the drug.

Among the graduating class of Touro University Class of 2017 was a young woman whose father was in the fight of his life. Ashley Harrington’s father, Dan Harrington, had just been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment; in his case, the precursor to Alzheimer’s. He and his wife, Andrea Harrington, were in the audience and the graduation speaker that day changed their lives.

“What happens in Las Vegas at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health benefits the rest of the world,” said Larry Ruvo, founder of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Downtown Las Vegas. The Harringtons felt like Ruvo was speaking to them.

“I was told the world would never look at Las Vegas or Nevada as a destination for great medical care, but I knew I had to take a stand to eradicate these terrible diseases,” said Ruvo at the 2017 graduation ceremony.

“I couldn’t even believe it. I just I looked at him. And I said, ‘This is this is for you,’” said Andrea. “I was crying already before I even turned around or stood up or anything. But it was such a relief to know that there’s a possibility that I don’t have to be like this,” said Dan.

The Harringtons moved to Nevada, enrolled in clinical studies, and when the FDA approved Lecanemab last year, Dan was the first patient to get the drug in a clinical setting. Change happened quickly.

“When he started on the Lecanemab, there’s a difference in his demeanor, he’s more calm,” said Andrea, “We noticed that right away.”

“Well, for me, it’s like, I’m clear. My mind is clear. I don’t forget as much as I used to,” said Dan.

Doctors say there are side effects of Lecanemab, including those as mild as dizziness and as concerning as brain swelling and bleeding. But Dan says he hasn’t experienced any of those. “Don’t give up, don’t give up, because it definitely helps,” said Dan.

How does Lecanemab help? FOX5 viewed brain scans of people who have Alzheimer’s and were administered Lecanemab in clinical trials.

The red and orange is the amyloid plaque that builds up in a patient’s brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. Each patient saw a reduction of the amyloid over a two-year period, some more dramatic than others.

“But from our standpoint, it’s still very dramatic for all of them, said Dylan Wint, MD, Cleveland Clinic Luo Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “Because the actual fact that instead of amyloid consistently accumulating in the brain, which is what happens in Alzheimer’s disease, we’re seeing people with Alzheimer’s disease because of treatment with an anti-amyloid antibody, actually reversing that process in the amyloid leaving the brain rather than accumulating over time.”

Essentially this could buy more time as research continues.

“That is very important,” said Wint. “Looking at treatments that will help the brain function better despite Alzheimer’s being there. And so, yes, we’re giving people more time to participate in a new trial and take a new drug. But most importantly, for us, it’s more time that they’re able to do the things that they’re used to doing to spend time with their loved ones, to continue to enjoy life as much as they wanted to in their older years.”

Dr. Wint says the Ahead study is happening now to determine if a heavier dosage of Lecanemab might stop or at least stall Alzheimer’s. Cleveland Clinic Luo Ruvo Center for Brain Health is accepting participants who are not diagnosed but at increased risk. You can register here to see if you are eligible at: //

In the meantime, the Harringtons understand the uncertainty and promise ahead. “After the treatments, we’ll see where he is. We’ll still see the doctors, said Andrea. “I don’t know, I don’t know. If we have more time together and make more memories, that’s the goal, that’s the goal. We have hope.”


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