Public Release: 

Past failures pave way for promising new Alzheimer's treatments

American Chemical Society

Since 2002, close to 300 drug candidates to treat Alzheimer's have run into clinical dead ends. But now, having learned from those failures, researchers are testing -- and retesting -- a batch of the most promising compounds designed to slow the disease's progression. An article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, describes what made this possible and what lies ahead.

Lisa M. Jarvis, a senior correspondent at C&EN, reports that just a few years ago, Alzheimer's research suffered from several high-profile setbacks. Experimental therapies, many of which targeted amyloid-? peptides, failed in clinical trials. The string of disappointments added to the already-existing doubt over whether amyloid-? was causing the disease. But researchers would later acknowledge that the clinical trials -- and in some cases, drugs themselves -- were fundamentally flawed.

Now equipped with better technologies and a better understanding of how the disease unfolds, several pharmaceutical companies are leading clinical trials to test new Alzheimer's drug candidates that target either amyloid-? or tau, a protein also implicated in the condition. So far, early results are promising for patients with mild symptoms of the disease. Although the therapies don't represent a cure, they signal long-awaited progress.

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