Date published 
June 2012 

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Alzheimer’s Disease: Clinical Pipelines, R&D Challenges, and Future Directions - Overview

 

Author: Mark C. Via

Alzheimer’s disease is an extraordinarily active realm of research, with nearly 100 products in clinical development and many more at the discovery and preclinical stages. The competition in this arena is fierce, but the company that produces the next innovative compound for Alzheimer’s disease will earn a rich return on its investment. This report provides a detailed assessment of Alzheimer’s disease and examines:           

  • Alzheimer’s disease pathology, causes, methods of diagnosis, and epidemiology
  • Current pharmacologic treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease
  • The wide range of Alzheimer’s disease therapy approaches at the investigational stage
  • The numerous molecular targets being explored for their potential to alter the course of Alzheimer’s disease
  • R&D challenges in advancing Alzheimer’s disease drugs through the clinical pipeline
  • Future directions in Alzheimer’s disease research

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common chronic neurodegenerative disease, is a progressive, incurable condition characterized by cognitive impairment. The efficacy of available treatment options is very limited. This, in combination with the huge potential market for Alzheimer’s disease—more than 5 million patients in the United States alone suffer from the disease, and this figure is increasing with every decade—has placed Alzheimer’s disease prominently in the sights of pharmaceutical companies trying to come up with new and improved drugs.

Developing effective drugs for Alzheimer’s disease has been and continues to be challenging. Alzheimer’s disease attacks the most complex and least understood region of the human anatomy: the nervous system. Researchers have figured out different aspects of the mechanisms of the disease, but are unsure how the various pieces fit together into pathogenic pathways. As a result, drug development has been slow and painstaking, with numerous incremental advancements and more than a few reversals. Alzheimer’s disease research has been stung by the recent setbacks of several novel compounds in late-stage clinical trials. The class of drugs that has suffered the most drastic loss in status since its hopeful entry into the clinic about a decade ago is the gamma-secretase inhibitors, following the failure of the front-running candidate, semagacestat, in Phase III in 2010.

There are a multitude of ideas about interventions that might arrest the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, a broad range of molecular targets are being explored. The therapies under evaluation include those aimed at compensating for the loss or dysfunction of neurotransmitters involved in cognition; those that intervene in the process of amyloid-beta production and aggregation; and others that target, for example, tau pathology, neuroprotection, cholesterol and energy homeostasis, and second messenger modulation.

This Insight Pharma Report, Alzheimer’s Disease: Clinical Pipelines, R&D Challenges, and Future Directions, provides a detailed assessment of Alzheimer’s disease. Following a brief introduction to the disease, Chapter 2 reviews its symptoms and pathology, presumed causes, methods of diagnosis, and epidemiology. Chapter 3 explores available drug therapies for the disease; Chapter 4, the wide range of treatment approaches now at the investigational stage; and Chapter 5, future directions in Alzheimer’s disease research.

About the Author
Mark C. Via, an editor at CTB International Publishing, has more than 16 years of experience writing and editing for pharmaceutical trade publications. He holds a BA in history from Williams College.