Discussing Specific Issues Facing the Alzheimer's Community

Commitment to Research Will Yield Results in Fight Against Alzheimer’s

11.12.13 | By John Castellani

Over the last few weeks we have devoted a fair bit of time and energy on Alzheimer’s disease. Why? It is one of the most complex diseases we face, it currently afflicts more than 5 million people in the U.S. and its current trajectory is worrisome to say the least.

Despite huge investments and years of research devoted to learning more about the disease, we are still left with many unanswered questions on how to prevent or treat it. Alzheimer’s is devastatingly progressive, and unless significant advances in research and development are achieved, the disease’s human, social and fiscal costs will skyrocket in the coming decades. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that by 2050 the number of Americans with the disease will reach 13.5 million at a cost of over $1.1 trillion.

Given the current and long-term impacts of Alzheimer’s, PhRMA recently joined the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation to convene a forum to discuss specific issues facing the Alzheimer’s community.

We were incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to interview some of the event’s participants, and we set up a camera to ask the following question for this week’s Conversations Forum:

As a participant in the recent forum on Alzheimer’s hosted by PhRMA, the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, what do you think are some of the biggest research challenges and opportunities related to the disease?

Public-private partnerships critical

One of the core areas of discussion during the forum was pre-competitive public-private partnerships. According to Stevin Zorn, Lundbeck’s EVP for Research and Development, public-private partnerships can play an important role in identifying and validating biological targets for prospective medicines.

Dr. Timothy Garnett, chief medical officer of Eli Lilly & Company, agrees. He also suggests that public-private partnerships need better organization and collaboration if we are to maximize their full potential. Right now, Dr. Garnett says, many public-private research initiatives are operating independently of each other, which may hinder progress toward a cure.

It’s getting personal

For many people on the front lines of Alzheimer’s advocacy and R&D, it’s increasingly a personal mission. Both Coalition Against Major Diseases EVP Diane Stephenson and Alzheimer’s Association Medical & Scientific Relations Director Heather Snyder shared such perspectives in their remarks in Conversations. As we’ve seen in other disease areas, it’s often this personal passion and drive that gets us ever closer to the finish line.  

We had many other incredible responses to this week’s Conversations Forum question, and I encourage you to watch them all. The thoughts shared by these experts – and the discussions at the forum itself – point to the difficulties we face in successfully piecing together the Alzheimer’s puzzle. But they also provide great hope that the collective force, creativity and passion of all stakeholders engaged in the effort will lead to solutions in the not-too-distant future.

I hope you will join the conversation by sharing your thoughts in the comments section.

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