What’s Next in Alzheimer’s Disease
By: Phyllis Ferrell
This guest post comes from Dan Skovronsky, Senior Vice President of Product and Clinical Development at Lilly.
For nearly 30 years, Lilly has worked to fight Alzheimer’s disease, and despite recent negative studies, has helped move the science forward in many important ways. The work we can do today was not remotely possible even ten years ago.
Today, we can see the fundamental disease causes with advanced brain imaging, and then follow patients over time to see if experimental medicines reduce those causes. The ability to do this has produced remarkable results.
I reflect upon these lessons as we look forward to next week’s Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in London, where we’ll present our latest research from many of the eight different molecules Lilly currently has in clinical development for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition with great unmet need. There were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people this year.[i] The cost of caring for people with dementia worldwide could rise to around US $2 trillion.i
Thinking about what’s next in the field, I believe the science behind the disease has continued to evolve and the recently failed trials have provided us with lessons to apply to compounds in development. However, it will be important for our regulatory policies and healthcare systems to evolve at the same pace, in order to address the crisis and stay on course to meet the goal of the U.S. National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.
We need to encourage earlier diagnosis instead of waiting for significant cognitive and functional decline to occur. To effectively fight the disease, Alzheimer’s patients, their caregivers and doctors need more productive conversations sooner, with the goal to recognize and diagnose as early as possible.
We also need better access to testing and improvement in diagnostics to more effectively detect and monitor the disease. Currently, the more advanced diagnostics are not well understood or utilized by healthcare providers so it’s essential that we educate them on these new tools. The more people know about the importance of brain health and memory care, the more likely they are to take action.
I remain hopeful for the future of Alzheimer’s disease and I am truly motivated by the work we do here at Lilly because it will ultimately make life better for people around the world.
[i] Alzheimer’s Disease International. Dementia statistics. Available at: https://www.alz.co.uk/research/statistics. Accessed June 15, 2017.