Treating symptoms before they gain momentum; 50,000 patients needed for clinical trials

By Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD, and James Leverenz, MD

Currently, 105 therapeutic agents are in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). As research progresses, a better understanding of the biology of the disease and its development is allowing for even more targeted drug development. Researchers at Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health are active contributors in moving forward the science and the search for treatments.

Shifting the paradigm is an appreciation of AD’s three distinct stages — an extended preclinical phase, potentially up to 15 years, before symptoms occur; the prodromal stage, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI); and AD dementia, the most severe, debilitating end stage. Researchers now believe AD is more like prostate cancer, where changes are underway well before symptoms appear. Thus, the earlier silent phase may be the best time to treat, or ideally prevent, the disease.

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