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April 9, 2014
The State of Alzheimer's Research, 2014
Via Bernard Munos on Twitter, here's a report from the New York Academy of Sciences looking at the current state of Alzheimer's research. Those various tabs are all live; you can get summaries of each one by clicking.
Looking them over breeds a mixture of hope and despair. The whole thing is themed around the 2025 target that many in the Alzheimer's world have been talking about. And while I understand the need for goals, etc., that year seems way too close. If a promising new compound were to be discovered this afternoon, it wouldn't make it. That brings up another point - many of the speakers at this meeting were talking about moving away from a "compound-centric" point of view. I can see (some of) the point, because there may well be other things to do for Alzheimer's patients. But it's also worth remembering that the reason people are talking like this is that no compounds have worked. This outlook is a second choice driven by necessity, not by some sort of obvious first principle.
And I think that, in the end, Alzheimer's will be arrested by compounds - more than one, most likely, and some of them are quite possibly going to be biomolecules, but compounds all the same. Reading the recommendations about adaptive clinical trials (good idea), broader cooperation and use of common clinical standards (another good idea), and all the others just make me wonder: clinical trials of what? That's the real stumper in this field; where to go next. How to go there is a topic that it's easier to reach agreement on.
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