Gordon Van Slyke: A Trial Participant’s Inside Look at New Alzheimer’s Drug Leqembi


When Gordon Van Slyke, 75, determined to take part within the part drug trials for Eisai and Biogen’s new monoclonal antibody drug Leqembi (lecanemab), it was his household historical past with Alzheimer’s that motivated him.

Gordon Van Slyke’s mom and sister each handed away of early onset Alzheimer’s after they had been of their early 60s. When he determined to take part in Alzheimer’s analysis at Constitution Analysis — particularly the part 3 drug trials for Eisai and Biogen’s new monoclonal antibody drug lecanemab (simply permitted by the FDA underneath the model title Leqembi) — it was this household historical past that motivated him..

“I made the choice to retire from my job as operations supervisor of 25 Glidden paint shops after working there for 35 years,” Van Slyke notes, “understanding that Alzheimer’s may very properly be in my future.”

His household consists of his spouse of 53 years, his two sons, 4 grandchildren and his latest arrival of an important grandson. Van Slyke’s days are stuffed with enjoying golf and spending time along with his spouse and pals. He and his spouse take pleasure in exploring their neighborhood in Florida’s The Villages of their golf cart. 

Being a part of the lecanemab research gave him and his spouse hope for the way forward for their youngsters and grandchildren. These research will hopefully transfer in the direction of a treatment for this illness, he informed Being Affected person. 

In a latest Views stay speak, Van Slyke shared his expertise within the lecanemab trial and his response to the latest information of the drug’s FDA approval underneath the title Leqembi. Learn on for a transcript of the dialog, or scroll down for a video of the stay speak in full.

Being Affected person: Let’s begin studying at the beginning about your journey right into a medical trial. First, let’s dial again to whenever you first realized that you just had been having cognition issues. Are you able to inform us just a little bit about that?

Gordon Van Slyke: A few years in the past, and it was only a gradual factor. As time went on, clearly, it was creating issues generally. I used to be a salesman, and in case you can’t speak to folks, you may’t make any cash. I used to be an operations man for a paint firm that had 25 shops I needed to be supervising. So I used to be on the highway rather a lot and that was sort of my background.

Being Affected person: So, whenever you say you needed to speak to folks, had been you having an issue with communication? What had been the primary indicators?

Gordon Van Slyke: No, I wasn’t at that time, however I’ve been retired for 15 years, so you already know. The time was the final 10 or 15 years the way it progressed, and I acquired into this research. I feel that’s been useful for me and at the least places a perspective on what is going on. Once you first expertise it, it’s  like “how did that occur?” and “why did that occur?”, you already know? You begin to query your self, and in case you query your self, you then’ve acquired an issue.

Being Affected person: So, how did you discover a trial? I imply we’ve talked to so many individuals and so many individuals on Being Affected person say they wouldn’t thoughts collaborating in analysis, however they don’t know tips on how to discover one. So speak us by way of that journey. How did you discover out about lecanemab?

Van Slyke: I didn’t. Really I heard about Constitution Analysis right here. They had been promoting and I knew I used to be conscious sufficient to know that a few of my services weren’t pretty much as good as they was once, and  I acquired into the research, and thankfully, it took me as a result of I imply I had an issue, you already know. However, it’s been an excellent journey. They’re superb to us. I do know this can be a powerful factor for them too.

Being Affected person: So, I’m simply questioning whenever you discovered the trial, what had been a number of the issues you had been experiencing? Clearly whenever you say, you had been experiencing some issues, what did these issues appear like? Like how do you know it’s not regular getting older versus one thing extra severe?

Van Slyke: I assume it began as a result of my sister had Alzheimer’s and handed very, actually quickly, going downhill fairly a bit. From the time of analysis to the time she handed was solely a few years. My mom additionally had the identical scenario, so I used to be properly conscious of what was occurring. , like some folks simply find out about it. I lived it.

Being Affected person: So, with a mother and a sister, you clearly have a really sturdy familial hyperlink. Do you know in case you had APOE 4, the Alzheimer’s gene, at the moment?

Van Slyke: No, I didn’t know what genes are, or any of that stuff. I assume I used to be sooner or later hoping it didn’t occur to me, my siblings, or doubtlessly my youngsters, you already know. Fortunately, that hasn’t occurred thus far.

Being Affected person: Once you went into the lecanemab research, did you have already got a analysis, otherwise you simply had been nervous about your cognitive well being?

Van Slyke: I knew there have been issues, that’s why I acquired concerned. So, that was the underside line. I admitted to it, some folks don’t need to admit to it. You simply gotta be good sufficient to say “Yeah, one thing’s not fairly proper right here.” I imply, I gotta say I do have the same life-style with the opposite guys that I play golf with and different households, you already know, I simply generally have slower reminiscence. That’s the easiest way to say it. I do properly, I feel being by way of Constitution, they’ve helped me with that. Assuming, I’ve acquired a number of the good things, you already know what I’m saying?

Being Affected person: Sure, completely; you appear to be doing very properly right now. The FDA simply permitted lecanemab (underneath the model title Leqembi), and I need your ideas on that later, however first, I need to ask you: How lengthy have you ever been taking this drug for?

Van Slyke: It’s not that lengthy. I’m making an attempt to return in my reminiscence after they informed me that I used to be most likely getting the drug. , one in all these items is that it’s a blind research, so…

Being Affected person: You didn’t know. You would have been the placebo.

Van Slyke: Proper. That’s what I used to be questioning, particularly at first. So we’ll discover out proper? I’m now going backwards. How can I say that? I assume that’s the most effective factor I can say. I imply, I’m progressing. I stand up each morning and go do what I do. I’m very energetic, enjoying golf and you already know, with pals. I’m dwelling the life, you already know, retired life. So, it hasn’t held me again that a lot. I could also be just a little slower on the upbeat sometimes, however thus far it’s a fairly good life. I’m not feeling like I’m caught in my home and, you already know, I’m going out and socialize. I do every part I did earlier than. The development downward will not be uncommon for anybody, even with out an Alzheimer’s analysis. However bodily, I’m doing properly. I golf three, 4 instances per week, and I’m having an excellent life in Florida.

Being Affected person: Nice. Properly, that’s all anybody can ask for, actually. Inform us just a little bit about your expertise within the trial, like, what was it like? We all know lecanemab (Leqembi) is an infusion. How typically do you get the infusions?

Van Slyke: Infusions are normally fairly a methods in between, like perhaps a month. 

Being Affected person: OK, so each month you go into Constitution, after which what occurs?

Van Slyke: We go to the off-campus place. It’s the place they do infusions they usually do all that sort of stuff. They acquired MRIs they usually have all of the gear they should verify you underneath the pores and skin. I’ve completed that fairly just a few instances. 

Being Affected person: So, how lengthy does all of it take whenever you go in and have an infusion?

Van Slyke: I’d say it’s round an hour. And there are occasions the place it’s been longer. I’m going to a medical facility that’s not managed by Constitution and you already know, so I’m a affected person and need to generally wait within the ready rooms. , it’s a course of. 

Being Affected person: How do you’re feeling whenever you get these infusions? Do you could have any uncomfortable side effects?

Van Slyke: I personally haven’t had any. Some folks get dizzy or simply have dangerous reactions. It simply occurs. No dangerous reactions, I assume I’d say. 

Being Affected person: So, Gordon, inform me just a little bit about what went behind your choice to take part in analysis. I imply, it’s an enormous choice for lots of people. You mentioned earlier that it actually confirmed that there was an issue whenever you certified for this trial. What was that call primarily based on, and the way did you make it?

Van Slyke: Once more, I mentioned my mom had Alzheimer’s and my sister had Alzheimer’s they usually each handed from it. I mentioned, “don’t be loopy, in case you might help you may assist.” It will probably’t harm me. Even when I, you already know, if it’s going to be it’s going to be, is what I’m saying. And, why not? Some persons are afraid of stuff like that, you may’t be afraid of what you don’t know. 

Being Affected person: That’s so true. So, I’m positive you’ve learn concerning the latest choice by the FDA to approve lecanemab (Leqembi). What’s your response to that approval?

Van Slyke: Properly, I feel that’s an excellent factor for everybody. , I imply, I’m positive there’ll be instances when it doesn’t work, you already know? However in case you don’t strive it, you don’t know.

Being Affected person: What does this imply in your trial? Are you continue to collaborating or how does that work as soon as the drug is permitted and the medical trial is accomplished?

Van Slyke: Properly, I feel the factor is now I ought to get the drug when it’s out. As a result of it’s been permitted and all that, as an alternative of earlier than understanding that it could possibly be a placebo and also you’re not getting

Being Affected person: Have you ever been informed whether or not or not you’re on the drug or the placebo but?

Van Slyke: I used to be right now, sure. 

Being Affected person: Do you need to share what you had been on?

GVS: It doesn’t matter what the title was. 

Being Affected person: However you had been on the drug? You weren’t on the placebo, proper?

GVS: Sure.

Being Affected person: OK, so you’re a candidate who obtained the drug in the course of the trial — and the way lengthy did the research go for? Was it a yr or extra?

Van Slyke: Really, I’ve been coming right here at the least two, perhaps three years. Okay, so what they’re doing, the best way I’m it for myself, is that they’re looking for candidates and never everyone is eligible or not everybody could make it work of their head. It simply doesn’t work.

Being Affected person: There’s very particular standards for lots of analysis. Have you learnt what that standards was, as you entered? Have you learnt why you certified?

Van Slyke: I don’t assume they ever informed me that. Properly, those I spoke with mentioned I used to be very wholesome and match. That’s an excellent place to begin, you already know, in case you’re match and prepared additionally. 

Being Affected person: So, now that you just’ve accomplished and now that the drug is off to the market, will you proceed to obtain Leqembi?

Van Slyke: Sure, that’s what they inform me. 

Being Affected person: Have you learnt for the way lengthy?

Van Slyke: Properly, I didn’t undergo all the main points however I consider it’s sure.

Being Affected person: So, you didn’t discover something? You’ll have these infusions and it’s simply actually time, proper? You’ll go to a spot and get an infusion for an hour, however you’ll stroll out of that room and really feel identical to you felt whenever you entered?

Van Slyke: Sure, properly I had no uncomfortable side effects. I stored coming again, so, if it wasn’t good, I most likely wouldn’t maintain coming again. Most individuals, like if it was horrible, it’s not a extremely invasive factor. They put a tube in your arm and let the juices stream. And it was only a matter of time. , you sit there for a pair hours after which they need one other hour to be sure that nothing’s gone flawed. That’s a security factor and I feel that’s sensible. 

Being Affected person: Once you entered the research, they gave you scans and also you needed to have plaque in your mind — as a result of we all know how these monoclonal antibody medicine work to interrupt the plaque down. A few of them stop and are aiming to stop plaque from forming. Have you learnt in case you nonetheless have any amyloid plaque in your mind?

Van Slyke: I assume they haven’t informed me that I do or don’t. However, they are saying it’s so good that I’m getting the drug. 

Being Affected person: I feel it’s nonetheless an open-ended query as to how lengthy folks have to remain on these medicine.

Van Slyke: I’m not the physician. However I’m prepared to do virtually something to make it higher for folks down the highway. I’ve nice youngsters, grandkids, nice grandkids, you already know. 

I’m not the physician. However I’m prepared to do virtually something to
make it higher for folks down the highway. I’ve nice
youngsters, grandkids, nice grandkids, you already know. 

Being Affected person: How previous are you now, Gordon? Should you don’t thoughts me asking.

Van Slyke: I’m 75. 

Being Affected person: When your mother and your sister acquired Alzheimer’s, was that an early onset?

Van Slyke: Early onset, sure, they had been each most likely 50. 

Being Affected person: So, it’s prevalent. what would you say to different people who find themselves sitting there going “Uhh, ought to I?” To begin with, you already know, the drug now we have to attend to see if Medicare or CMS goes to cowl the drug earlier than we all know the accessibility. I feel it’s $26,000 per yr, which is an enormous price ticket for lots of people, who gained’t have the ability to afford it with out Medicare. However, what would you say to people who find themselves contemplating maybe going right into a trial like what you’ve participated in with lecanemab? What could be your recommendation to them?

Van Slyke: Oh, that’s everybody’s particular person choice, I consider. It comes right down to what you consider in as an individual. I feel if I might help my fellow man, I’m prepared to do it. I feel there’s lots of people who really feel that method. There’s some that this isn’t for them as a result of it’s a time consideration. There’s additionally some angst right here and there, however I feel the top justifies the means, you already know, I feel it’s good. So, folks could not need to try this, so that they shouldn’t enter in the event that they really feel an excessive amount of angst or anxiousness. , particular person selections.

Being Affected person: Completely. And also you actually gave a variety of time to Alzheimer’s analysis. So I can think about with the drug approval, you already know, you’re feeling part of that. That’s good.

Van Slyke: I really feel comfortable not only for myself, you already know, I hope down the highway there isn’t any extra of it, however who is aware of. 

Being Affected person: However in all honesty, the drug couldn’t have been permitted except it had been for folks such as you who gave up a lot time, and the factor of danger. So thanks, Gordon, thanks for collaborating in analysis. It’s essential so we’re grateful. Any of us who’re impacted by Alzheimer’s are very grateful.

Van Slyke: The people who find themselves in cost are all wonderful. I’m saying, all. I by no means had a foul expertise right here. I imply, some are extra gregarious and others, however sure, they’re all right here for a purpose. And I don’t assume I’ve discovered any that it’s simply their job, you already know what I’m saying? So, I’m comfortable to have been useful, I hope.

Being Affected person: Thanks a lot, Gordon, in your time and for sharing your story, particularly at Being Affected person. We regard affected person views to be of the utmost significance to the dialogue on the seek for a treatment to Alzheimer’s. So, thanks in your time and becoming a member of us and we’re wishing you all the most effective for a wholesome future. We are going to verify in with you at a later date — thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.

Edited for size and readability.

 Katy Koop is a author and theatre artist primarily based in Raleigh, NC. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here