AURORA, Ohio (WJW) – The first Alzheimer’s drug that can slow the progression of the disease has just received federal approval. A Geauga County man was one of the people involved in the clinic trials at the Cleveland Clinic.
It’s been four years since John Domeck was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s at age 57.
In most cases, after four years with the disease, he would have lost some of his cognitive skills like reading and putting together complex puzzles.
In fact, John hasn’t really lost a step.
“Continue to do what I do. Spend time with Ann and Winnie, play golf, read books, make puzzles, go to church and travel,” John said.
His Alzheimer’s hasn’t gone anywhere because there is no cure, but its progression has been slowed down.
John has been part of a years-long clinical trial of the drug Leqembi. It’s not a cure, but for people diagnosed in early stages of the disease, doctors say clinical trials have produced some positive results
Dr. Babak Tousi is the primary investigator for the Leqembi clinical trial at Cleveland Clinic.
He says during the study, many patients whose Alzheimer’s was diagnosed early and were in good health saw the progression of their disease slowed by as much as 27%.
This is not a cure, and the treatment has only worked for people in the early stages of the disease in good health. However, Dr. Tousi says on a case-by-case basis, it has given many patients something that is critical — time.
“People should have a realistic expectation. This medication does not turn back time. People ask, ‘So, do you see people taking this medication get better?’ Unfortunately no, it does not make it better… Progression will continue, but hopefully at a slower rate,” Tousi said.
So, what is time worth?
For John and his family, it has meant seeing his son get married, his daughter graduate from school in London, a trip to Alaska, a lot of golf and the ability to talk and spend time with friends.
Time, no matter how much, means a lot.
“The beauty of an ordinary day he gets. That now he can look forward to things. Like, we have a trip. We’re going to Europe in August, we’re going to celebrate the graduate in England and golf in St. Andrews,” John’s wife Ann said.
John is continuing to help clinic doctors with their research and is using a weekly injection of Leqembi to continue the treatment.
For someone who has always had a problem with needles, John says he’s now a pro at dealing with shots.
That’s because the time that he can give doctors to continue to study this treatment, is time that he may be able to buy for someone else.
“We never thought we’d be where we are right now. We thought we’d be in a different place and here we are packing up to sail to Europe next month and we’re going to visit our kids at Christmas and keep skiing and there is hope,” Ann said.