Nearly three dozen new Alzheimer’s drugs may begin clinical trials in the next five years, researchers say.
That includes 27 drugs in phase 3 clinical trials, which are later in the drug review process. It also includes eight drugs in phase 2 clinical trials, according to an analysis by ResearchersAgainstAlzheimer’s (RA2) investigators, an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s network.
“The Alzheimer’s disease pipeline, marred by decades of failures and underinvestment, is due for big victories,” said George Vradenburg, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s co-founder and chair.
“Thanks to growing investment from industry leaders, we remain cautiously optimistic that the current crop of late-stage Alzheimer’s innovations will bring much-needed solutions to families in the near future,” he said in a network news release.
A new drug for Alzheimer’s hasn’t been approved in the United States since 2003 and in Europe since 2002.
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to treating Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. David Morgan, a founding member of RA2 and a professor of molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida.
“The more we learn about the underlying Alzheimer’s pathology, the closer we get to a cure for a disease that is an enormous burden on patients, caregivers and global health systems,” he added in the release.
About 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, the number of cases in the United States could be as high as 16 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Deaths from the disease increased 55 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One major question is whether health care systems worldwide will ensure that people with or at risk of Alzheimer’s have access to new treatments.
“Alzheimer’s is commonly misdiagnosed, and the United States suffers from a shortage of geriatricians — issues that will only grow as the baby boomer generation ages,” Vradenburg said.
“Private- and public-sector leaders will need to work closely with insurers in the coming years to ensure patients have access to these drugs when they are available,” he concluded.
The analysis was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, England. Information presented at meetings is generally considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on Alzheimer’s disease.