PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — You could see the excitement on Dr. Stephen Salloway’s face as he discussed an investigative drug showing promising signs for treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Salloway, director of Butler Hospital’s Memory and Aging Program, said one of the drug’s clinical trials took place in Rhode Island.

“We haven’t had a new drug approved for Alzheimer’s for 16 years,” Salloway said. “This would be our first new approval, this would be the first drug that actually targets the disease itself.”

The drug, called Aducanumab, is made by Biogen and helps remove plaques of Amyloid protein that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

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Salloway said because of Butler Hospital’s clinical trial – he has seen the drug’s success first-hand.

“People on the medicine had a slower decline in their memory and better preservation of day-to-day functions,” Salloway said. “They were functioning better than people who got the inactive medicine.”

Biogen had initially put a halt on the studies back in March because data suggested that the drug would not be effective. But to the delight of Salloway, new data came in that revealed the drug was working.

Before the drug can be made available, it must first be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Salloway said the approval process could take until the later part of 2020.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s and this potential new treatment, sign up for the Memory and Aging Program’s Alzheimer’s registry.