Importance of Detecting Alzheimer's Disease

Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

07.18.13 | By

Today Show contributor Linda Carroll wrote a great article about the importance of detecting Alzheimer's disease earlier in life.  Warning signs, such as difficulty with language or reading, changes in mood or personality and challenges in problem solving, could provide clues to patients experiencing the early onset of this neurological disease.  This is particularly true for patients under the age of 65, where early detection by physicians is less common.  

Nancy Alberton, a patient in her late 50s, was concerned about her risk for developing Alzheimer’s, as her own mother suffered from it.  It wasn't until she started forgetting words that she went to a neurologist and was diagnosed with the early onset of Alzheimer's disease.  

Nancy was lucky that the doctor diagnosed her so early in her life because of the medical options that are available for patients in her shoes. She is now being treated with medicines that help alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and has enrolled in clinical trials that are testing potential Alzheimer's treatments.

Clinical trial enrollment for complex diseases like Alzheimer's disease have experienced great challenges.  The research and discovery process of potential new breakthrough medicines can be severally deterred if there aren’t enough participants in clinical trials.  

Many Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers aren’t aware that clinical trials could be taking place in their own backyard.  This makes PhMRA's initiative “Research in your Backyard” that much more important - it raises awareness of clinical trials and how these trials have contributed greatly to patient health.

While current treatments available for Alzheimer's patients address only its symptoms, hope is on the horizon with nearly 100 potential new medicines in the biopharmaceutical pipeline.  As we pointed out in our report "Setbacks and Stepping Stones" last year, research in this particular disease area is much more complicated and complex than most other diseases.  In fact, the report found that between 1998 and 2011, 101 treatments for Alzheimer’s have failed to reach patients.  In the same time period, three medicines have been approved to treat symptoms of the disease. This 34 to one ratio of setbacks to successes underscores the difficulty of developing new medicines for Alzheimer’s.

In October, PhRMA will be hosting an Alzheimer’s forum to discuss the challenges surrounding clinical trial recruitment for Alzheimer’s patients and barriers to pre-competitive partnerships that could help advance medical innovation. 

Stay tuned for more information about this event!



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