Alzheimer’s Drug Failure Does Not Deter Scientists in Search for Effective Treatment
According to an article from The Boston Globe, two recently developed Alzheimer’s drugs have been discontinued after being declared failures. The two failed drugs, solanezumab and bapineuzumab, were intended to either neutralize or flush out a build-up of beta amyloid (or Aβ) in the brain, which most Alzheimer’s researchers now believe initiates the disease.
Despite the setback of the failed drugs, Boston-area scientists and executives remain optimistic in their search for an effective treatment. Dr. Norman Relkin, director of the Memory Disorders Program at NY-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, claims it is a matter of how soon the right drug will be developed, rather than when. However, he fears the recent failure could discourage pharmaceutical companies from investing in drug development for Alzheimer’s.
The article stated that the reason for two drug failures remains undiscovered; scientists can’t be sure if it’s because the drugs didn’t do their job well, or because patients received them too late in the disease. Dr. Dennis J. Selkoe, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, believes the drug trials “strongly suggested that we’re treating this disease too late…We need to move earlier.”
In order to find a successful Alzheimer’s treatment, patients may need to begin taking preventative drugs up to 20 years before symptoms set it, said Jeff Ives, chief executive of Satori Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge. Currently, available treatments may inhibit some symptoms, such as memory problems, aggression, and wandering, but only slightly. The goal is to create a drug that prevents the brain-deteriorating disease early on, but also that helps treat patients whose disease is too advanced for preventative drugs.
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