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Research Field Diagnostics & prognostics, Neuroscience

Better Biomarkers for AD R&D

At a Glance

  • Thus far, drug development for Alzheimer’s disease has not seen great success
  • Clinical trial failures suggest we must catch and treat early – but at the moment, we have no effective way to detect pre-symptomatic disease
  • We need valid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, not only to detect it, but also to stratify patients and monitor treatment success
  • Even with fluid biomarkers showing early promise, brain imaging of disease and treatment response will remain essential

Alzheimer’s disease has been a minefield for recent drug development, marked by a series of clinical trials whose failures suggest that therapeutic interventions will need to be directed earlier in the disease process. How much earlier? Well, before the onset of dementia – in fact, ideally before any symptoms manifest at all. Complicating the search for drugs to treat the disease is the fact that, in most instances, the symptomatic decline in affected individuals is slow. For a clinical trial to show a definite effect on cognition, it may need to run for many years. At this point, though, such clinical trials are some way in the future. First, to identify and ultimately treat the disease at a pre-symptomatic stage, we need valid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. Biomarkers are critical to stratifying and monitoring patients for clinical trials in drug development. Then, once treatments are available, biomarkers are needed to screen patients and confirm diagnoses in the clinic – and also to properly direct the use of drugs and track responses to therapy.

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About the Author

Carlo Medici

Carlo Medici is chief executive officer of Alzeca Biosciences, Houston, USA, a company developing novel advanced imaging agents for the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

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