International Conference on Alzheimer's & Parkinson’s Diseases 2015

Nice, France

The 12th AD/PD conference drew some 3,100 people from across the world to the Mediterranean city of Nice. After a long day of talks—sessions ran from 8:30 a.m. to a grueling 7:15 p.m.—hungry scientists could be seen strolling to dinner across the Place Massena, with its illuminated resin statues created by the Catalan contemporary artist Jaume Plensa. The seven characters on their pedestals represent seven continents, and the changing color of their lighting is said to symbolize communication between them. At the conference, talks in four parallel sessions ran the gamut from basic to clinical science on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, the in-between disease dementia with Lewy bodies, and even a session on the ALS-FTD spectrum. Meeting abstracts are freely downloadable here.

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Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2015

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.

The National Institutes of Health hosted a meeting earlier this month as leaders in Alzheimer’s and other diseases met in Bethesda, Maryland, for the AD Research Summit 2015. The first such meeting since the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease was put into action in 2012, the summit served to spur the field on toward the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025. Over the two-day meeting, researchers proposed ways of finding therapeutic targets outside of the familiar Aβ and tau fields. Data sharing was a big theme for this goal. Speakers also weighed in on how to enlarge patient cohorts, capture better phenotypic data, engage minority communities, and harness citizen science to analyze vast quantities of data.


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Keystone Symposium: Neuroinflammation in Diseases of the Central Nervous System

Taos, New Mexico

The fields of neuroscience and immunology melded into one at “Neuroinflammation in Diseases of the Central Nervous System,” a Keystone Symposium held January 25-30 in Taos, New Mexico. The behavior of myeloid cells in the brain drew close scrutiny at the conference, as researchers grappled with fundamental questions such as, what do microglia actually do, and how do they respond to and influence the course of neurodegenerative disease? Novel genomic and proteomic tools emerged that may help answer these questions. Researchers abandoned the old M1/M2 microglial phenotypes calling for more relevant characterizations, and embraced TREM2 and other molecules that play central roles in microglial responses. Read Jessica Shugart’s stories on the meeting’s highlights.

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Human Amyloid Imaging 2015

Miami, Florida

Was this year’s HAI conference a bit of a misnomer? You could say so, if only to tease. The ninth incarnation of this rapidly growing conference, held January 14 to 16 in Miami Beach, Florida, featured as much excitement about tau as about amyloid imaging, for which several PET tracers are FDA-approved.  At HAI, a brand-new tau tracer called THK-5351 debuted and three tracers by Roche were poking out of the preclinical pipeline. The leader of the pack, the Phase 2 tracer T807/AV1451, dominated the agenda as data were pouring in on its performance in Alzheimer’s and non-AD tauopathies—most of it good, some still rough around the edges. Meeting abstracts are freely downloadable here.

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Clinical Trials Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease 2014

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Held in a historic skyscraper built in 1932 for a Philadelphia bank, the seventh conference on Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease drew 715 scientists to this city between November 20 and 22. CTAD featured a sprinkling of new trial results and enthusiasm about treating agitation in AD, but most of the activity reflected a field trying to rebuild itself from the ground up. Trialists swapped notes on implementing new diagnostic criteria in therapy trials, enriching trial populations, and exploring home-based assessments and other tools to support prevention trials. Secondary prevention sounded positively mainstream and has become the stuff of large-scale collaborations. Rusty Katz, formerly of the FDA, implored trialists to stop obsessing over disease modification and to aggressively go after big therapeutic effects instead. Those, Katz said, may require a commitment to co-develop combinations of investigational drugs.

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Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting 2014

Washington, D.C.

More than 31,000 people attended the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C., November 15 to 19. Twenty-five symposia, 26 minisymposia, 101 nanosymposia, 667 poster sessions, and numerous lectures, workshops, and satellite events attracted researchers engaged in all manners of neuroscience. If you failed to soak it all in, or if you opted for the relative calm of the lab this year, then check out Alzforum's conference series.

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International Conference on Frontotemporal Dementias 2014

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

First results from the Genetic FTD Initiative, and the advance of an HDAC inhibitor drug into Phase 2, made big splashes at the ICFTD conference held last month in Vancouver. Five hundred and ninety scientists from 30 countries met to exchange the latest clinical and scientific news on the diseases that make up FTLD. Multi-center cohort studies in Europe and North America reinforced the sense that there is a community spirit that may allow a common approach to how to develop therapies. Frontotemporal lobar degeneration can start in myriad ways—with social disinhibition, overeating, halting speech, or even odd misperceptions of pain or cold—but it always ends in dementia. Attendees said that the FTD field is poised for rapid progress. 

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