Featured | Jul 29, 2019

Urgent Search for New Alzheimer's Treatments

Researchers strive for effective Alzheimer’s disease (AD) drugs as cases double every 20 years. Current drugs often show no significant difference from placebos, urging faster, cost-effective solutions for this pressing issue.


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With a progressive neurodegenerative disease causing debilitating cognitive abilities to thousands of aging individuals around the world, it’s no surprise researchers are persistent in their efforts to create an effective solution for those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 

The number of individuals with Alzheimer’s follows a trend of nearly doubling every 20 years, which means research efforts are on a tight timeline to develop a drug to help in the prevention of the disease itself or slowing the progression. An increasing total of $230 billion annually for treating those with AD is also a heavy burden stressing the need for successful research. 

Unfortunately, even with many researchers working on new drug developments to work on preventing, delaying, slowing the progression or even improving the symptoms of AD, 99 percent of drugs tested between 2002 and 2014 showed no differences between the tested drug and the placebo. Additionally, only one drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during that 12-year period. 

Beyond the biologic and chemical obstacles standing between the researchers and finding a miracle AD drug development, there is also a hefty time and monetary challenge they must overcome. The development for an AD treatment requires an average of 13 years to make it through all three phases of testing, and typically costs around $5.6 billion. 

The biggest area of research for AD drug development is in disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that attempt to delay or slow the progression of AD by leading to cell death of infected cells. Two-thirds of the current drug development for Alzheimer’s includes DMTs, which could lead to a slower progression of cognitive impairment for those affected by AD. 

Additional clinical trials and drug development testing has a similar goal of slowing the progression of the disease. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has published a review of past, current and future research efforts to summarize the important search for a drug to help permanently change the disease trajectory to delay the onset of symptoms or slow progression in symptomatic patients. The article even has a corresponding post-quiz offering continuing education credits, providing physicians and healthcare professionals with incentives to stay up-to-date on current AD developments. 

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