Alzheimer's Disease

CLEVELAND CLINIC, OH For the first time, researchers are looking at the number of Alzheimer's drugs being studied, and urging for more drugs to be developed.

Without a successful treatment, it's estimated there will be 16 million Americans suffering with Alzheimer's by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Scientists now have a better grasp of how the disease works and are getting closer to linking the biology with a potential therapy. Dr. Jeffrey Cummings said, "we've had a marked increase in understanding how the disease process is occurring in the brain and how to intervene in it."

A research team looked at Alzheimer's drug trials from 2002 to 2012. Results showed the failure rate for Alzheimer's drugs in development is 99.6 percent. They also found that the number of new drugs for Alzheimer's disease has been declining since 2009, and that there are relatively few drugs currently being developed.

That's bad news for an aging baby boomer population in need of a therapy to prevent, slow or stop the disease. Recent advancements in the field will help bolster new research, like new imaging techniques and the discovery of how a specific protein in the brain behaves within brain cells.

"All of these things represent potential therapeutic targets that we didn't even know existed before," Dr. Cummings said. Complete results can be found in the Journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy.

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