Alzheimer’s breakthrough: still a long way to go

Posted under Uncategorized on November 2nd, 2012 by Editorial Team / No Comments

The mood at this week’s Alzheimer’s conference in Monte Carlo was encouraged but subdued. Recent results for a potential treatment were disappointing but there was something in the data: it’s just that investigators didn’t know what it was telling them.

Delegates to Clinical Trials in Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) heard a lot of questions. Was the drug tested too late in the development of the disease? Would it be more effective in early Alzheimer’s than in patients with mid to mild Alzheimer’s. Or could it be that there is more than one kind of brain plaque that contributes to Alzheimer’s – a bit like good and bad cholesterol? Researchers admitted they just don’t know.

It is disappointing, not just for the scientific community but for the thousands of patients and their families who contributed to the Phase III trials.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a worldwide epidemic, but the causes remain elusive. Dementia, of which AD is the most common form, was estimated to affect 35.6 million people worldwide in 2010 and, if nothing is done to prevent or slow the disease, its prevalence is expected to increase to 65.6 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.1

Early results disclosed, in August, that this the treatment did not significantly arrest progression of AD in two Phase III studies that tested patients with mild to moderate symptoms of the disease.

Further results were announced at CTAD suggesting that beta amyloid plaque was removed from the brain; so good news in terms of its mechanism of action.

Much more work is needed but what we can say is that pharma has identified that early treatment holds some promise. Other Phase III trials are continuing. We can only hope that further data will provide more clues – and potentially the answer – to one of the greatest health challenges of our time.

1 Alzheimer’s Disease International: World Alzheimer’s Report 2009

Tags: Alzheimer’s disease, beta amyloid plaque, clinical trials, CTAD

Alzheimer’s in the news

Posted under Blog on October 18th, 2012 by Editorial Team / No Comments

These days there are almost daily reports in the media about Alzheimer’s disease. A quick Google search reveals over 60,000 articles and stories from every major news outlet.

Just this week the Daily Mail reported “Shoes with an in-built tracking device to locate Alzheimer’s patients have gone on sale in the UK.”

Fox News asked if Alzheimer’s is a new type of diabetes after a University of Pennsylvania study found a link between the two conditions, reporting that some researchers are now using the term “Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.”

The Guardian asked if Down’s syndrome could “point the way to preventing Alzheimer's disease?” and reported that a consortium of scientists are searching for the genes that provide protection against Alzheimer's.

Bloomberg’s covered research from Australia that showed that plaque in the brain was a more important risk factor than the gene tied to the dementia-causing illness.

The Nursing Times reported on research from Chicago, where scientists are developing “a nanotechnology nasal spray… that could transform the early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s.”

The consistent coverage of stories about Alzheimer’s is reflected by a growing public interest in the disease. According to Google’s Keyword Search tool, there are over three million searches per month for information about the condition.

Yet despite this, there have been concerns raised that pharma research into Alzheimer’s is losing momentum after major trials by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson reported disappointing results this summer.

Andrew Chidgey from the Alzheimer's Society said, given the scale of the problem, funding for dementia was still far too low. "Currently, there are 150 times more clinical trials focusing on treating people in the late stages of cancer than Alzheimer's disease. One in three people over the age of 65 will die with dementia. More funding for research is urgently needed if we are to defeat the condition once and for all."

The UK Government is trying to answer this call. The BBC reported on a government-sponsored event in London last week as part of David Cameron’s 'Dementia Challenge' initiative. Attended by 150 global leaders in dementia research, including major drug firms such as Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline, it is hoped that the event will help to boost pharma’s “waning interest” in the condition.

Despite the reluctance of pharma to undergo further expensive clinical trials, the evidence suggests that neither the public nor the media are losing interest in Alzheimer’s.

Tags: Alzheimer’s disease, David Cameron, dementia, investment, media coverage, pharma, public interest, R&D news, research



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