Why are there no good drugs to treat Alzheimer’s? More than 20 years after scientists discovered that mutations in three genes can cause the devastating disease, and that the apoE gene increases people’s risk for it, there are only four FDA-approved drugs to treat Alzheimer’s. And they do little but slow symptoms (if that).
Over the last decade, more than 99 percent of the new compounds tested against Alzheimer’s have failed in clinical trials, costing their developers billions of dollars and crushing the hopes of the 5.5 million (and counting) Americans with the disease.
Readers joined STAT reporters Sharon Begley and Damian Garde on Monday as they moderated a chat with Alzheimer’s expert Dr. Reisa Sperling of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We aimed to cover a lot of ground: What drugs are in the pipeline, the therapeutic approaches, and which diet and lifestyle habits might prove protective. Sperling, who has relationships with several biopharma companies, also talked about her “A4 Study,” which is testing a new therapy in patients who are at high risk for Alzheimer’s, but as yet have no symptoms.
Here’s a transcript of the conversation.