GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month.
Just in time, the Food and Drug Administration has granted accelerated approval for a new, experimental drug set to slow the progression of the disease for those in the early phases, such as mild, cognitive impairment or not severe dementia.
And though there's still more research to be done, it's giving some patients hope.
Maria Turner was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's in 2016 at the age of 48.
"I knew there was something wrong when I would just put lip liner on, or I would put a contact lens in, then another pair of contact lenses in. And couldn't figure out why," Turner said.
She says her doctors tell her it's due to multiple traumatic brain injuries—including 11 concussions she received while being an equestrian at a young age.
On June 7, the FDA approved a drug called Aducanumab, or aduhelm, which is the first drug of it's kind in 20 years. Beth Sulkolski with the Alzheimer's Association says they're excited about it.
"That works by removing the buildup of a certain kind of protein called amyloid beta from the brains of people who are impacted."
Sulkolski says this could be a new beginning for people with Alzheimer's.
"This translates into more time for individuals to actively participate in daily life, to maintain their independence as much as possible," Sulkolski said.
Sulkolski says it will take time before doctor's can prescribe it.
"FDA approval is the first step in many steps that it's going to take to get this available to people," said Sulkolski
The FDA is still studying the drug. One of the FDA's advisory committees has ten members vote "no" when it came to primary evidence of its effectiveness to treat Alzheimer's. The FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research maintains it was approved through their normal course of action.
Turner is still optimistic about the possibilities.
"Trust me. I will be doing my research as well, but, right now, the biggest hurdle is crossed. So, now, we have hope," Turner said.
You can celebrate Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month by wearing purple, researching the early signs to learn more, and donating to causes like The Alzheimer's Association to continue their research.
Read more here.