Why are drug trials in Alzheimer's disease failing?

August 26, 2010

An Editorial in this week's Lancet discusses the poor record of drug trials in Alzheimer's disease, following the dumping of semagacestat on the phase 3 scrapheap of other failed disease-modifying drugs for the condition.

Meta-analysis suggests some animal models inaccurately predict drug efficacy, while other problems could be poor methodology in animal studies or use of models that don't accurately reflect in humans. The Editorial says: "Current treatment targets patients with symptomatic Alzheimer's disease. But perhaps the disease is being treated too late, when damage is irreparable?

The best time to treat Alzheimer's disease is likely to be before and tissue destruction occurs, but this is hard to model in animals. That means identifying people at risk of developing the disease, perhaps because of a or by measuring biomarkers, such as the recently reported cerebrospinal fluid measurement of a mix of amyloid β1-42 and phosphorylated τ protein."

It concludes: "Drug-industry scientists are failing themselves if their animal studies are poorly done or use the wrong model, and their companies are failing academics who do their phase 3 trials with them, trial participants, and shareholders. Perhaps the problem is 'translational research' itself: a phrase much bandied around, but does anyone know what it really means, let alone how to do it?"

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TheAlzheimersDoc
not rated yet Aug 30, 2010
The truth really is that unless someone in the pharmaceutical industry or academia makes a "mistake" in their research that rivals Fleming and really starts to push the ball forward, I will be long dead and buried before a "cure" or real "treatment" for Alzheimer's disease is available.
Dr. Ken Romeo
HugoGeerts
not rated yet Sep 03, 2010
A possible solution in bridging the translational disconnect in Alzheimer's disease is the broader acceptance of computer-based mechanistic disease modeling, that is so succesful in other industries. This allows to account for some of the fundamental problems of animal models (see CNS Drugs 23, 915, 2009)
Dr. Hugo Geerts

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