Friday, September 21, 2012

Trials in Alzheimer's Disease: The Long Road Ahead

Placebo Control is going purple today in support of Alzheimer’s Action Day.

A couple of clinical trial related thoughts on the ongoing struggle to find even one effective therapy (currently-approved drugs show some ability to slow the progression of AD, but not to effectively stop, much less reverse it):
  • The headlines so far this year have been dominated by the high-profile and incredibly expensive failures of bapineuzumab and solanezumab. However, these two are just the most recent of a long series of failures: a recent industry report tallies 101 investigational drugs that that have failed clinical trials or been suspended in development since 1998, against only 3 successes, an astonishing and painful 34:1 failure rate.

  • While we are big fans of the Alzhemier’s Association (just down the street from Placebo HQ here in Chicago) and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, it’s important to stress that the single most important contribution that patients and caregivers can make is to get involved in a clinical trial. That same report lists 93 new treatments currently being evaluated.  As of today, the US clinical trials registry lists 124 open trials for AD.  Many of these studies only require a few hundred participants, so each individual decision to enroll is important and immediately visible.

  • While all research is important, I want to single out the phenomenal work being done by ADNI, the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. This is a public/private partnership that is
    collecting a vast amount of data – blood, cerebrospinal fluid, MRIs, and PET scans – on hundreds of AD patients and matched controls. Best of all, all of the data collected is published in a free, public database hosted by UCLA. Additional funding has recently led to the development of the ADNI-2 study, which will enroll 550 more participants.
Without a doubt, finding and testing effective medications for Alzheimer's Disease is going to take many more years of hard, frustrating work. It will be a path littered with many more failures and therapeutic dead-ends. Today's a good day to stop and recognize that fact, and strengthen our resolve to work together to end this disease.

1 comment:

GG. said...
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