Alzheimer's Medicines: Setbacks and Stepping Stones
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Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness that gradually robs a person of everything they hold dear: their memories, their relationships, their personality, their independence, and, ultimately, their life. Alzheimer’s also places a significant burden on the health care system at-large. As the aging population expands, so does the need to address and conquer the disease.
To treat, slow, and prevent Alzheimer’s, new treatments are urgently needed. However, the path from basic research to the development of new medicines is extremely long and complex with many setbacks along the way. This is particularly true in the case of Alzheimer’s, where diagnosis is challenging, and we lack a full understanding of the disease.
A new analysis finds that between 1998 and 2017, there were 146 unsuccessful attempts to develop medicines to treat and potentially prevent Alzheimer’s. In that same timeframe, only four new medicines were approved to treat the symptoms of the disease. In other words, for every research project that succeeded, about 37 failed to yield a new medicine.
Despite these setbacks, biopharmaceutical researchers and the companies they work for are committed to finding new therapies, with 92 medicines for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other dementias currently in clinical development.