There have been no new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease since the approval of four cholinesterase inhibitors in the 1990s and memantine in 2003. Alzheimer’s currently affects more than 35 million people worldwide and the numbers are increasing. Paul Aisen of the University of California, San Diego, was the keynote speaker at the 4th International Conference in Clinical Trials on Alzheimer ’s disease (CTAD) earlier this month in San Diego. Aisen of the University of California, San Diego, tracked the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease trials from the first ones in 1986 to the recent ones of 2003. He forecast a better future with researchers having a better understanding of the disease.
Aisen, head of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), a major academic sponsor of Alzheimer’s trials, said researchers have learned difficult lessons about research protocols for the insidious disease. For instance , it is now agreed that the earlier the better with intervention. However it is difficult to know who has the disease when symptoms haven’t presented. Trials on people with mild cognitive impairment have failed and studies need to start even before impairment is revealed. They are not getting better though at identifying people with MCI who will likely progress to Alzheimer’s and that helps research.
Recent studies are starting to find clues and evidence of Alzheimer’s before the patient is even aware of them. Some signs can be detected by measuring certain proteins or taking images of the brain, very early, before there is any suspicion of the presence of the disease. “We would like to move to the point where function is intact and there are no clinical symptoms,” said Aisen. “We think this represents a very promising population for clinically meaningful treatment.”
Source: CTAD, MedicalNewsToday