Alzheimer's diseas: It's not all bad news

At a conference on clinical trials on Alzheimer's disease, researchers seem hopeful that a new phase of discovering and treating those with symptoms of the disease is soon to come.

November 26, 2011 08:28
2 minute read.
X-ray of a brain

Brain 311 T. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Since the approval of four cholinesterase inhibitors in the 1990s and memantine in 2003, there have been no new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that currently affects more than 35 million people worldwide. Against this backdrop, Paul Aisen of the University of California, San Diego, opened the 4th International Conference on Clinical Trials on Alzheimer's Disease (CTAD) on 3 November 2011 in San Diego, California. Aisen’s keynote address, now available on Alzforum tracks the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease trials from the first trials in 1986, to the above-mentioned approvals, to the many subsequent failures. Aisen plots a new phase forward, with researchers having a better handle on how to tackle the disease. Along with Aisen’s talk, Alzforum provides highlights of ongoing trials that were presented at CTAD.

Aisen, who heads the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), a major academic sponsor of Alzheimer’s trials, said researchers have learned hard lessons about how to conduct such trials. For one thing, there is a growing consensus in the field that interventions are needed in the earliest stages of the disease, before the brain has suffered significant damage. But how? Some trials have already been conducted in people who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI)—in other words, who have some memory problems but no dementia. But these trials have all failed, and Aisen explains why. Since then, researchers have refined tools to identify those people with MCI who will most likely progress to Alzheimer’s.

But beyond that mildly symptomatic stage, Aisen argued that researchers should go after the disease even before any clinical symptoms appear. Recent studies have revealed that there are signs of Alzheimer’s, which can be detected by measuring certain proteins or taking images of the brain, even before people or their doctors know anything is wrong. “We would like to move to the point where function is intact and there are no clinical symptoms,” said Aisen. “We think this represents a very promising population for clinically meaningful treatment.” Aisen and other researchers are currently planning such a trial.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Other stories from the CTAD meeting include the results of two trials, one of a medical food and one of an agent that targets the protein clumps that gum up the brains of Alzheimer’s patients; an upcoming feature that describes new technologies for conducting clinical trials in the comfort of people’s homes; and another on a possible new method for detecting Alzheimer’s disease by taking electrical recordings on people’s scalps.

This article was first published at

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Weizmann scientists bring nature back to artificially selected lab mice