What Kind of Treatments Are Being Developed for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Despite some disappointments, the pipeline isn't dry

alzheimers medicine being tested and developed

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — and eagerly awaiting new medications to treat it. While we sometimes hear that the Alzheimer’s drug development pipeline is dry, that’s not necessarily true, according to a new report.

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“I hear over and over, when I give talks around the country, there’s nothing going on, there’s no hope, there’s nothing, no progress being made, [but] I know that this is an $8 billion industry and there’s massive amounts of research going on to the tune of 75 drugs in clinical trials right now,” says Marwan Sabbagh, MD, lead author of the research and Director of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

The report explores drugs currently in clinical trials for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, including how far along they are in development and how they work.

Setbacks and incremental progress

Earlier this year, researchers experienced a major setback when a highly anticipated drug targeting amyloid, a type of protein linked to Alzheimer’s that accumulates in the brain, failed.

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While amyloid-targeting drugs aren’t making as much progress as researchers had hoped, Dr. Sabbagh says there are new ideas and products moving forward.

For example, more individualized Alzheimer’s treatments based on certain genetic characteristics are emerging. And some scientists are looking at bacteria’s role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Meanwhile, a blood test to potentially detect Alzheimer’s risk is on the horizon as well.

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While we may not have a cure for Alzheimer’s yet, Dr. Sabbagh says every discovery helps doctors better understand the disease and leads science in the right direction.

“We’re not going to hit the home run here — we’re going to hit base hits, and we’re just going to keep chipping away at this incremental progress,” he says. “That’s how we’re going to make this disease something we can manage better.”

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