If the setback of the Expedition 3 study of solanezumab set their mood in the beginning, attendees at the 2016 Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference soon bucked up and voiced renewed determination to tackle this illness. Many took positive secondary outcomes and trends in this Phase 3 trial as a sign that this or more potent anti-amyloid drugs given earlier will make a bigger dent in the disease process. Short of major surprises, the meeting reaffirmed the sense that AD will only be slowed by deploying potent drugs at the right target (probably more than one), with the right dose, and certainly at the right time.
When more than 30,000 registrants gathered at the San Diego Convention Center for the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting November 12-16, they exchanged their latest data on the basic science on Alzheimer’s disease. Topics ran the gamut from protein propagation and inflammation to the hunt for plasma biomarkers and potential therapeutics. Alzforum reporter Madolyn Rogers brings you highlights.
Since the first Kloster Seeon meeting on β-secretases in 2013, a handful of BACE inhibitors have entered clinical trials and researchers have learned more about what these proteases do in development and adulthood. What’s the status of the field in the fall of 2016? Check out our coverage of the 2nd Kloster Seeon meeting. Highlights include conditional BACE1 knockouts, updates on non-APP substrates cleaved by BACE, news about BACE’s role in dystrophic neurites, assays to measure off-target effects and—finally—the arrival of BACE1-selective inhibitors.
As research on frontotemporal dementia gathers steam, the international conference hosted its largest gathering ever last month in Munich, Germany. More than 750 researchers shared their latest data on basic science, genetics, and clinical outcome measures. Biomarkers dominated the meeting, as the field prepares for therapy trials by seeking better ways to track pathology in living people. The few trials that have been done thus far, without specific biomarkers, have largely been a bust.
Held July 22 to 28 in Toronto, the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference showcased a field in transformation. At the clinical level, groups from Europe, North America, and Japan are attempting to coalesce around new ways to recruit preclinical populations for large observational and trial platforms for late-onset AD, while the smaller but more established DIAN initiative is growing into a worldwide movement. At the biological level, research is set to expand thanks to funding increasing in response to national plans. Health economics research is pressing in. Topically, tau ruled the roost, though genetics, vascular contributions to dementia, and efforts to define ever-earlier stages of the decades-long disease continuum advanced, as well. On the clinical trials front, the only Phase 3 study appears to have been largely a bust, while some Phase 1 presentations of new antibodies, BACE inhibitors, and a small-molecule tau modifier drew quiet praise.
Researchers who packed the lecture halls for “Common Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration” and “Microglia in the Brain,” joint Keystone Symposia held June 12-16 in Keystone, Colorado, saw old dogmas fall and new ideas and methodologies emerge. Debates ran the gamut from the biophysical nature of toxic proteins to the characterization of microglia in health and disease.
At the third annual Zilkha Symposium, held April 15, 2016, in Los Angeles, scientists from the United States and Europe wrestled with the immense complexity and heterogeneity of Alzheimer’s disease. The program ranged from genetics to clinical symptoms to drug targets. Researchers discussed how genes point to amyloid, tau, and the immune system. They debated the merits of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease based on symptoms versus biomarkers, and considered a panoply of medications now in trials. Rather than being overwhelmed by complexity, however, researchers were confident that even attacking one of multiple pathogenic pathways in Alzheimer’s could help people with the disease, perhaps soon. Highlights included new approaches to Aβ oligomer morphology, the interplay between amyloid and microbes, and the importance of the brain’s vascular system. Read Amber Dance’s series.