Why are drug trials in Alzheimer's disease failing?

Aug 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?"

Explore further: Bacteria detected in food may cause abortions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Alzheimer's drug begins human trials

Jun 27, 2007

Human clinical trials are under way for a U.S. drug to treat Alzheimer's disease, based on the design of a Purdue University researcher.

Anti-inflammatory drug blocks brain plaques

Jun 24, 2008

Brain destruction in Alzheimer's disease is caused by the build-up of a protein called amyloid beta in the brain, which triggers damaging inflammation and the destruction of nerve cells. Scientists had previously shown that ...

Recommended for you

New analysis questions use of acute hemodialysis treatment

12 hours ago

A common approach to treating kidney failure by removing waste products from the blood did not improve survival chances for people who suddenly developed the condition, in an analysis led by experts at the University of Pittsburgh ...

WHO: West Africa Ebola death toll rises to 1,350 (Update)

12 hours ago

Riot police and soldiers acting on their president's orders used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their Liberian slum Wednesday, trying to contain the Ebola outbreak that has killed ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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