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



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