COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — On Friday, the FDA gave accelerated approval to lecanemab, an experimental dementia drug that appears to slow the progression of cognitive decline.

It will be marketed as Leqembi.

Dr. Douglas Scharre, a neurologist with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, was part of the clinical trials for the drug.

Lecanemab is a monoclonal antibody treatment that targets amyloid, the protein associated with Alzheimer’s. The drug is given intravenously and goes directly to the brain.

In late November, results from an 18-month Phase 3 clinical trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed lecanemab “reduced markers of amyloid in early Alzheimer’s disease and resulted in moderately less decline on measures of cognition and function than placebo at 18 months but was associated with adverse events.”

There was concern in the study over side effects like brain swelling and bleeding in some patients. There were serious adverse events in 14% of the lecanemab group.

“We discovered them by doing routine MRI safety scans of their brain,” Scharre said. “That would be required should individuals take this as an approved drug. So we watch very carefully for these things.”

He said those side effects can be overcome, noting that only five out of close to 900 patients exhibited brain swelling.

Scharre said the treatment’s ultimate goal is to help Alzheimer’s patients continue to participate in life.

“If they’re still able to eat and feed themselves and walk and talk and have conversations and enjoy being with people that’s not a bad way to be,” he said.

Also, the symptoms must be caught early for the treatment to work effectively.

“It only works in people that have very mild stages of Alzheimer’s, so only if you have mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer’s dementia, it really shows benefits,” he said. “But the only way it works is if you catch it early, so don’t wait.”

He encourages anyone who thinks they or someone they know is showing any symptoms of slowing down to get tested immediately.