At the 8th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s conference held November 5-7 in Barcelona, 900 attendees traded results on trials from the closely watched Aβ antibodies aducanumab and gantenerumab to a long list of lesser-known therapeutic candidates. The most pressing issue discussed at this meeting was how to design trials to be able to see a drug effect in early AD, while the tools are still evolving. The field has learned much about the importance of rigorous dose-finding, exposure, and target engagement, but new frontiers have cropped up. How best to identify the right patient population, knowing how fast a given early-stage person is likely to progress, and measuring subtle improvement in barely impaired people have become the challenges of the day. To meet them, tools development is actively ongoing even as a larger clinical trials infrastructure is forming across both sides of the Atlantic.
Some 29,000 registrants descended on McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the United States, for the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, held October 17-21 near downtown Chicago. Among the 18 symposia, 31 minisymposia, 98 nanosymposia, 650 poster sessions, and numerous special lectures was a shrinking but still lively fraction of Alzheimer’s science. Alzforum reporters Madolyn Rogers and Tom Fagan ferreted it out.
At the 10th Brain Research Conference: RNA Metabolism in Neurological Disease, a satellite of the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, attendees learned about a parade of mice modeling different aspects of ALS and FTD that result from expansions in the C9ORF72 gene. Knockouts lose control of their immune systems, while transgenics overexpressing the repeat-heavy human gene ranged from normal to having movement and cognitive abnormalities. The results suggest the repeats cause toxicity, but scientists have plenty more to do to understand what the mice are telling them.
Every so often, an intrepid reader steps forward to enlighten the community by organizing notes from a conference that few fellow Alzforum readers got to attend. This week, Donna Wilcock of the University of Kentucky shares her impressions from VasCog, the annual meeting of the International Society of Vascular Behavioral and Cognitive Disorders, held in September in Tokyo. New epidemiology, pathology, brain imaging techniques, and mouse model data are strengthening the link between vascular damage and cognitive dysfunction; alas, the data remain correlative and the overlap between vascular and AD-specific mechanisms difficult to separate out.
This year's Alzheimer's Association International Conference drew 4,000 attendees to Washington, D.C., where they soaked up everything from advances in human imaging and diagnostics to the latest clinical trial results. While the latter brought no surprises, scientists shared plenty of interesting preclinical data as well, among them a massive combination trial of two anti-Aβ therapies and research that shows that aerobic exercise preserves cognitive function even in people who are already impaired.
Throughout the five days of the 2015 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, conversation resonated in the hallways about a unique, daylong preconference for some 100 relatives of people with autosomal-dominant AD, who traveled to Washington, D.C., from four continents. The pre-meeting presaged how preventing early-onset AD could, in time, benefit all of Alzheimer’s disease treatment.