Three years after the Global Alzheimer’s Platform (GAP) Foundation launched GAP-Net, a standing network of clinical trial sites optimized for Alzheimer’s drug studies, the group convened last month in Nashville, Tennessee, to compare notes and share best practices. With 73 sites signed on, three trials currently are up and running. What have they learned? Recruitment outreach works best at the local level, but centralizing other aspects, such as IRB approval, is helpful. Standardized contracts and rater training remain sticky issues, and sites better prepare for an onslaught of newly diagnosed early stage patients expect with upcoming Medicare changes. The mostly young audience enjoyed networking with front-line workers from other trial sites. Read Pat McCaffrey’s coverage in two parts.
Encompassing more than half dozen subtypes, linked to at least four different protein aggregates and at least six distinct genes, frontotemporal dementia would seem like a researcher’s nightmare. And yet, its science is advancing so fast that they have never been more hopeful. Read Tom Fagan’s coverage of the 11th International Congress on FTD, held in Sydney, to catch up on the news.
Tufted astrocytes? Astrocytic plaques? These tau pathologies mark progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration, respectively. The science of these difficult-to-diagnose diseases may finally be taking off. Read Tom Fagan’s coverage of the first PSP & CBD International Research Symposium held in London. Learn how genetics are yielding clues toward pathways, and natural history cohorts and therapeutic trials are getting underway.
When the anti-Aβ protofibril antibody Ban2401 was first shown to reduce amyloid deposition in a Phase 2b clinical trial, researchers worried. Was its otherwise exciting cognitive benefit just an artifact of an imbalance of APOE4 carriers between the treatment and placebo groups, caused by regulatory changes during the trial? At the11th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference, held October 24–27 in Barcelona, investigators allayed some of those concerns. Their subgroup analysis by APOE genotype indicated that the drug effect was likely real. An early look at biomarkers suggests they are adding up toward a treatment effect on Alzheimer’s pathophysiology.
Is Alzheimer’s more common, or different, in black Americans? Or do cerebrovascular risk factors account for much of that community's disproportionate dementia burden? There’s too little data to know, because minorities are underrepresented in observational and therapeutic studies on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. That may soon change. Researchers across the federally funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers are being asked to step up recruitment and retention in culturally sensitive, community-building ways. A recent workshop at Washington University, St. Louis, saw lively debate of the issue, and those interested in studying minority recruitment can apply for a R24 grant dedicated to the topic. Read Gabrielle Strobel’s two-part report.