In the promotion of an HBO series called “The Alzheimer’s Project,” The San Diego Union Tribune featured an interview with Dr. Paul Aisen, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study at UCSD, who is also featured in the series. Dr. Aisen is, if anything, very optimistic about the development of Alzheimer’s treatments, and says that there are several excellent candidate drugs in clinical trials.
Do you think finding effective treatments, even a cure, for Alzheimer’s is no longer hopeless?
I do. I think the likelihood is that in the foreseeable future, we will make very major progress in controlling the disease. The science has advanced to the point where we have highly promising targets for drug development, excellent candidate drugs in clinical trials. One or more of these current programs will be successful.
There are already some drugs on the market, though their benefits are fairly modest and symptomatic. They improve a little bit the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s without changing the disease or its course.
It will be different with the next generation (of drugs). They will target not the symptoms but rather the underlying pathology. Specifically, we recognize that Alzheimer’s is driven by a specific molecule – the amyloid peptide. If we discover how to control the accumulation and toxicity of this molecule, we ultimately may be able to halt the progression of the disease. We’re already making excellent progress at recognizing the disease at a very early stage.
For those impacted by this devistating (and incurable) disease, Dr. Aisen offers more than a glimmer of hope. It seems to just a matter of time before these treatments are available.