There are 126 drugs in clinical development for Alzheimer’s disease and “every single one represents hope,” according to Closing in on a Cure: 2017 Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Report. The report, released by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), identifies the drugs for Alzheimer’s that have reached human clinical trials.
“Alzheimer’s has too often been a story of failure,” says Howard Fillit, MD, Chief Science Officer at the ADDF. “But this report shows a diverse group of promising drugs are nearing the finish line. The first disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s is likely in clinical trials right now. We are closing in.”
While drugs targeting beta-amyloid (a protein that comprises the plaques common in Alzheimer’s) remain the most prevalent, other drug targets such as inflammation, mitochondria, and neuroprotection are gaining ground. This broadening of targets is due in part to the efforts of the ADDF, which funds new approaches to treating Alzheimer’s. Nearly 20% of the drugs now in clinical stages have received ADDF support.
In addition to the emergence of innovative targets to treat Alzheimer’s, the report highlights other aspects of the current clinical pipeline. This includes the relatively small number of repurposed drugs being tested, the shift toward trials with earlier-stage patients, and persistent challenges such as recruitment and the relative lack of validated biomarkers for innovative targets. It also defines a path forward for the field, specifically the need for experimental trial designs and combination therapy approaches.
Closing in on a Cure: 2017 Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Report focuses on potential disease-modifying drugs, which are designed to slow, stop, or possibly even reverse the course of Alzheimer’s. Because clinical trials are the final stages of a drug’s development, some of the drugs listed in this report could be available to patients in just a few years. Highlights follow:
- 126 Disease-Modifying Drugs. There are 126 potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in clinical development.
- Half of the Drugs are in Phase 2. We found 33 drugs in phase 1 trials, 68 in phase 2, and 25 in phase 3.
- Beta-Amyloid is Most Common Target. Despite a history of failures, 30 drugs in clinical trials are targeting beta-amyloid, a misfolded protein that comprises the plaques found in Alzheimer’s. An additional 11 drugs target other misfolded proteins such as tau or mechanisms to clear such proteins.
- The ADDF Has Supported 20% of Clinical-Stage Drugs. We have provided funding to support the development of 25 of the 126 treatments now in clinical development.
- Additional 19 Drugs to Address Associated Symptoms. There are also 19 drugs in clinical trials designed only to address symptoms experienced by Alzheimer’s patients, such as agitation, depression, and insomnia.