For decades, researchers have worked tirelessly, hoping to find an effective Alzheimer’s cure. However, the majority of clinical trials have failed. Although significant progress has been made in terms of our understanding of Alzheimer’s, no new drugs have been released in 15 years.
Now, precision medicine, an approach that is changing cancer treatment, is gaining interested within the Alzheimer’s community. After recently meeting at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, a team of specialists assessed the current state of dementia research.
These researchers and specialists were hopeful regarding both precision medicine and more innovative trial designs (in order to effectively deliver new Alzheimer’s treatments). Based on these approaches, two experimental drugs may effectively treat some patients living with Alzheimer’s.
What Is Precision Medicine?
Currently, most available treatments (regardless of the condition or disease), treat the “average” patient. However, since each individual patient is unique in terms of their genetics and physiology, not all treatments are one-size-fits-all.
Precision medicine, on the other hand, is an approach that matches each patient with the best possible treatment for them and their needs. Also known as individualized or personalized medicine, this treatment takes many variables into account, including one’s lifestyle, environment, genetics, and even the impact of certain microbes.
As stated in one review, published in the Annals of Translational Medicine, in recent years, significant advances have been made in precision medicine. This is particularly true for select cancers and cystic fibrosis. However, for most diseases, including Alzheimer’s, precision medicine is in its earliest stages.
To advance this area of medicine, governments around the globe are launching Precision Medicine Initiatives. Since the risk and molecular profiles of people with Alzheimer’s show immense variation, precision medicine may be an effective solution. By identifying each patient’s specific pattern of risk factors, this may lead to a more personalized approach.
The Introduction of BAN2401 and Anavex 2-73
Most recently, two experimental drugs benefited some patients with Alzheimer’s. The first, BAN2401, was shown to dramatically reduce amyloid plaque deposits in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In fact, after 18 months, those who received the highest dose showed a 26 percent slowing of clinical decline in comparison to the placebo group.
In this case, the trial’s “adaptive design” ensured that the latest patients were assigned to groups that showed the greatest promise. Although this is controversial among some researchers, most agree that Alzheimer’s trials need to evolve. By trying new approaches, new targeted therapies could develop.
The second drug, known as Anavex 2-73, was recently studied in patients who display a few actionable genetic variants. This means these patients can potentially take preventative action in order to significantly reduce their risk of a genetic-related disease.
Although this trial was small, it was unique in that researchers sequenced the patients’ genomes. They hoped to find key genomic signatures that would make them more likely to respond to certain drugs. After identifying more than 33,000 genes, the researchers had a good idea of how Anavex 2-73 impact specific molecular processes.
This resulted in a trial that included a narrowed subject pool. After receiving this drug for 57 weeks, those who displayed the targeted genetic variants showcased clinically meaningful improvements. These improvements included their ability to remember, reason, and carry out daily activities.
Precision Medicine May Support Sex Differences
As reported in a recent press release, precision medicine may also support sex and gender differences in regards to Alzheimer’s. Since more women suffer from Alzheimer’s than men, precision medicine could help target genetic and biological differences.
Gender and sex differences, including genetic and psychosocial domains, may be highly relevant in regards to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s. If researchers are able to identify key biomarkers, this would have a positive impact on the design of clinical therapy trials — especially in terms of precision medicine.
The BrainTest® App Is a Supportive Assessment Tool
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, early intervention is imperative. The sooner a patient receives available treatment, the better. As researchers continue to better understand Alzheimer’s and the possible individual risk factors, therapy options will likely improve.
This is why we recommend the BrainTest® app. This assessment tool can help you identify early warnings of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive impairments so that you (or a loved one) can seek immediate medical attention.