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Making sense of the Alzheimer's drug pipeline

hlovy (613473) writes | more than 3 years ago

Biotech 0

hlovy (613473) writes "Alzheimer's disease is a thief. It robs seniors of a lifetime of experience and memories as it also robs their children and other loves ones of the benefits of their wisdom. It empties the wallets of families, and leaves many emotionally drained at seeing their elders slowly disappear into themselves.

So, what new answers has medical science has come up with? At best, it's good news and bad news. First, the bad news: there is no cure. There is not even complete agreement as to its cause. There is a general consensus that extracellular amyloid-beta (Aß) plaques and intraneuronal tangles in the brain are to blame. Drugs being developed tend to target these plaques. But, at best, they hold off symptoms temporarily.

Now, the good news. Biomarkers research is making it increasingly possible to determine whether a person might develop Alzheimer's disease, perhaps even decades in advance. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the chances are of being able to delay its symptoms or at least prepare for them. It could be argued, however, that this detection capability is, in itself, a good news/bad news scenario.

But, those sticky philosophical issues aside, medical progress marches on in its usual lurching way--many failures mixed with some progress. Here's a rundown of what's on the market, recent drug failures, pipeline prospects and the most recent research from the the laboratory trenches."

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