One day, a trial in Alzheimer’s will slow the disease. That trial may already be underway.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease which is the most common type of dementia. It typically presents with subtle and progressive memory loss.
There are currently about 120 compounds being tested for Alzheimer’s disease. About two thirds of these compounds have a possible disease modifying indication, meaning that they have some hope of slowing down the progression of the disease. One of these MAY be a future therapy, if shown to be useful in a clinical trial.
We are currently recruiting potential subjects for clinical research studies. We are investigating better treatments, aimed at reducing suffering and progression, and even looking at possible prevention strategies. Without these clinical trials, there will be no progress in fighting this disease.
Researchers work on pre-clinical science to find possible ways to treat diseases, but these treatments need to enter testing in clinical trials with human volunteers. Medications do not drop out of the sky. And the false promises from the false prophets who say they can cure Alzheimer’s, or end Alzheimer’s, are exactly that. They are charlatans who pretend to know things in order to sell books, specialized diets, and supplements. All lack scientific rigor to test their ideas. Compounds need rigorous, placebo-controlled testing before they become medicines. With lives on the line, doctors need to know risks and benefits in trial populations in order to treat individuals with the disease. It takes 10 to 15 years before a compound entering clinical trials is ready for doctors to prescribe it as a drug. And for every drug approval, thousands of compounds are found to be unsuitable.
Those with Alzheimer’s disease, and even those who are at risk of developing it, are needed to participate. Compounds are being tested in over 250 currently enrolling clinical trials. For those who volunteer for clinical research, the possible benefit is getting a drug that might work. But even if a drug does not work, progress is made. Participants can also take an active role in their health care, receive expert medical care at leading healthcare facilities free of cost, and help future generations. Research on research shows a consistent and interesting finding: those who enroll in clinical trials do better than those who are not enrolled in clinical trials, even if the experimental treatment fails. There are several reasons for this: those in trials generally receive high quality of care, and they tend to have social safety nets that allow them to join trials and do well.
There are downsides to clinical research. Patient safety is the single most important aspect of every clinical trial, and obviously this extends to Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials as well. Study procedures are reviewed by ethics boards to help ensure safety. Even with the best designed trial, there may be side effects and the drug under investigation may not work (hence the reason it is being studied). Joining a clinical trial is an individual decision that should take into account all possible risks and benefits.
Despite recent setbacks, we feel there are reasons to be very optimistic about the future. Every clinical trial in Alzheimer’s disease over the past decade has not worked as hoped, but the field as a whole has learned from each one. These trials help future researchers determine the right group of subjects, the right dose, the right target, and the right outcomes to study.
One day, one of the trials in Alzheimer’s disease will be positive. We think this trial may already be underway.