Road to Alzheimer's Research Paved with Good Intentions

A panel of Alzheimer's disease experts recommends organizing research efforts

(RxWiki News) A number of factors prevent Alzheimer's disease research from reaching its optimal potential, according to a new report.

Medical challenges, an economic crunch and misaligned research prohibit the most effective Alzheimer's research, according to a trio of nationally regarded Alzheimer's disease researchers writing in the Jan. 27 issue of the medical journal, Perspective.

Foremost among the challenges facing effective research is the fact that preventive strategies are tested primarily in patients who are well into the disease's course. Dr. Todd Golde, director of the UF College of Medicine's Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, likened this approach to testing heart-disease preventive statin drugs in patients who are already in cardiac arrest.

The authors also cite veering avenues of research among human-volunteer studies (focused on treatment) and in preclinical lab studies (which are aimed at prevention).

"We have to overcome our 'prevention versus treatment' dilemma," Golde said.

There are currently about 90 experimental therapies aimed at halting or slowing Alzheimer's disease, many which target the brain plaques implicated in the disease. These strategies are likely to be less effective when tested in patients who already experience memory loss and confusion, according to authors, who said they hope to align dialogue between research communities, pharmaceutical companies and regulatory bodies with their report.

About five million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, which results in progressive cognitive decline and ultimately, death.

Review Date: 
January 27, 2011