Dealing with challenges of dementia

Recognition of the challenge of Alzheimer’s disease by world leaders, increased efforts and funding, plus dedicated partnerships, generates considerable potential for treatment advancement. Lundbeck is dedicated to research and drug development for Alzheimer’s disease, and will continue to commit to this disease area, aiming to transform future perspectives for patients and caregivers in the years to come.

(Lundbeck-sponsored feature in connection with the G7 Germany: The Schloss Elmau Summit, June 2015)

Treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease
In our aging population, increasing numbers of people are being affected by dementia, and almost everyone knows somebody who suffers from the disease or whose life it has shaken. 

The medications that are currently approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease do not offer a cure or a modification of disease progression – rather they help to relieve symptoms, lessening their impact on daily functioning. 

Decades of research have led to a better understanding of the risk factors and pathological mechanisms underlying the neurodegenerative aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. Intense drug discovery efforts from academia and pharmaceutical companies have recently resulted in the identification of several small molecules and antibody therapies with the potential to slow the neurodegenerative process. 

Consequently, to prevent neurodegeneration and modify the course of the disease, it is likely to be necessary to treat patients in the early stages of the condition – possibly even before clinical symptoms appear. 

Public-private partnerships
Advances in the field have, to a great extent, been driven by public-private partnerships where industry, academic institutions and public agencies have collaborated to establish a pre-competitive environment to support epidemiological and interventional trials. That is, these different organisations work together in the early stages of research, to benefit all.

Continuation of, and commitment to, funding of public-private partnerships is pivotal for continued research into the selection of diagnostic and treatment-sensitive biomarkers, clinical assessment scales and standardisation of procedures across clinical study sites. 

Collaboration between companies, academia and public institutions is essential for risk-sharing and, perhaps more importantly, for jointly investigating how to optimise clinical study designs and methodology to detect treatment effects in patients or asymptomatic individuals. 

Further perspectives
While preventing or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is the ultimate treatment goal, providing effective relief for cognitive and behavioural symptoms, here and now, continues to be of considerable importance to patients, caregivers and society. 

Effective symptomatic relief will remain important, even if slowing the course of the disease becomes possible. In this context also, collaborative efforts could be beneficial in an attempt to develop new compounds which, alone or in combination, would constitute the best possible treatment for the individual patient. 

References

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease International. http://www.alz.co.uk/research/statistics. Last accessed, May 2015.
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). Dementia: a public health priority. © WHO, 2012. 

Did you know?

The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at $44.4 million.1 This number will double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.1,2 In 2010, the total estimated worldwide costs of dementia were more than $600 billion.1

More about Alzheimer’s disease

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