Potential Alzheimer’s Treatments in Growing Number of Phase 2 and Phase 3 Studies, Group Reports

Joana Fernandes, PhD avatar

by Joana Fernandes, PhD |

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Alzheimer's clinical trials

The number of clinical trials evaluating possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease is on the increase, according to a recent analysis conducted by ResearchersAgainstAlzheimer’s (RA2), a global network of Alzheimer’s researchers that is part of a non-profit organization promoting the study and treatment of this disease, called UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

The results were recently presented at this year’s UsAgainstAlzheimer’s National Alzheimer’s Summit, held in Washington’s, D.C., under the title “Where are We on the Path to 2025.”

To date, there are 57 Phase 2 and 23 Phase 3 ongoing clinical trials to test potential Alzheimer’s medications, and 19 such drugs are estimated to come onto the market in the next five years. The analysis not only showed that the science behind Alzheimer’s is moving forward, but also that clinical trials are keeping up with drug development and research investigating new ways to combat the disease.

“I am encouraged to see such a range of approaches to treating Alzheimer’s in Phase II development,” David Morgan, CEO of the University of South Florida’s Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, said in a news release. “There is much work that still needs to be done, but the drugs in Phase II clinical trials offer a great deal of hope for the future.”

Alzheimer’s disease is complex, and not all treatments are effective in all patients. The more options that are under evaluation, the better. Several treatments under evaluation aim to improve certain symptoms, such as agitation, cognitive loss or depression, while others are being studied for their ability to prevent or delay the appearance of symptoms in people at risk of Alzheimer’s.

According to the analysis from RA2, the development of both symptomatic and prevention drugs requires changes that include:

  • high-performance clinical trials that allow rapid testing and results on the potential of a given drug
  • robust biomarkers that indicate the presence, severity or progression of Alzheimer’s, and that allow disease developments to be followed even in the absence of symptoms
  • appropriate trial endpoints for each stage of the disease (for instance, cognitive decline may occur later in the disease, and not in the earlier stages)
  • effective communication between clinicians and researchers, so they may know what treatments work best with certain patient populations
  • innovative trials, based on patient outcomes or the testing of combination therapies

“Just as combination treatment proved effective for HIV/AIDS, a similar approach to developing a ‘cocktail therapy’ for Alzheimer’s disease used by several of these compounds may provide the hope and medical progress that millions of people are demanding,” said George Vradenburg, co-founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “These potentially game-changing drugs on the horizon may make Alzheimer’s a manageable disease.”