Af­ter yet an­oth­er PhI­II Alzheimer's fail­ure, ex­perts try to map a path out of the wreck­ing field

Pushed by a 15-year record of clin­i­cal fail­ures and pulled by an FDA search­ing for a prac­ti­cal new path for­ward for Alzheimer’s drug re­search, a joint com­mit­tee or­ga­nized by the NIH’s Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Ag­ing and the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion is sug­gest­ing a bio­mark­er-based ap­proach to defin­ing the ill­ness that can guide new de­vel­op­ment ef­forts.

In place of the old tox­ic pro­tein de­bate that once di­vid­ed the field in­to two camps for amy­loid be­ta and tau, the group be­lieves that the pres­ence of both should be a hall­mark of Alzheimer’s, along with phys­i­cal ev­i­dence of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion or neu­ronal in­jury. By mix­ing and match­ing the bio­mark­ers, they want to be able to high­light the de­vel­op­ment of the dis­ease in­to a set of dis­tinct stages that can be used to test the ef­fec­tive­ness of new drugs and com­bi­na­tion ther­a­pies even be­fore symp­toms ap­pear.

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