June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

Purple-Buildings

 

There are at least 44 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and those numbers are expected to grow to 76 million by 2030. During the inaugural Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month this June, the Alzheimer’s Association® is asking people around the world to wear purple – the color of the Alzheimer’s movement – and use their brains to fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite being the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s disease is still largely misunderstood. Often thought of as minor memory loss, Alzheimer’s is actually a fatal disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. As the disease progresses, the brain shrinks dramatically due to cell death. Individuals lose their ability to communicate, recognize family and friends and care for themselves.

Watch Seth Rogan’s, now famous, statement before a Senate hearing on Alzheimer’s Research

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, nearly a quarter (24%) of people agree with the mistaken belief that Alzheimer’s disease must run in their family for them to be at risk. When looking at certain ethnic groups, these numbers were even higher. A third of Latinos (33%) and almost half of Asians (45%) agreed with that incorrect statement. In actuality, everyone with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s, a disease that currently has no way to prevent, stop or even slow its progression.

“Alzheimer’s disease is devastating millions of families and threatening economies worldwide, yet it is still widely misunderstood,” said Angela Geiger, Chief Strategy Officer at the Alzheimer’s Association.

If no new medicines are found to prevent, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, the number of people affected in America will jump to 15 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Cost of care for Alzheimer’s patients could increase five-fold to $1.2 trillion a year.

Even modest progress can drastically change this trajectory. A medicine that delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by five years would lower the number of Americans suffering from the disease by nearly half in 2050 and save $447 billion in related costs, the Alzheimer’s Association projects.

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing 73 potential new treatments and diagnos- tics for Alzheimer’s. AbbVie, GE, Lundbeck, Eli Lilly and Takeda have compounds and diagnostic agents in Phase I and II trials:

BT-126
(alpha-7-NNR antagonist)

AbbVie

North Chicago, IL

Alzheimer’s disease

ABT-354
(serotinin 5-HT6 receptor antagonist)

AbbVie

North Chicago, IL

Alzheimer’s disease

ABT-957
(calpain inhibitor)

AbbVie

North Chicago, IL

Alzheimer’s disease

 Lu AE58054 (5-HT6 receptor antagonist) Lundbeck Deerfield, IL Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Rockville, MD  Alzheimer’s disease (cognition)  Phase II http://www.lundbeck.com http://www.otsuka.com
 LY2886721   Eli Lilly Indianapolis, IN  Alzheimer’s disease (slow disease progression)  Phase II http://www.lilly.com
  LY3002813 (N3pG-AB mAb)   Eli Lilly Indianapolis, IN  (beta secretase inhibitor) Alzheimer’s disease  Phase I http://www.lilly.com
 pioglitazone low-dose  Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Deerfield, IL Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals Chapel Hill, NC  mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease  Phase III http://www.takeda.com
 solanezumab   Eli Lilly Indianapolis, IN  (amyloid-beta protein inhibitor) mild Alzheimer’s disease  Phase III http://www.lilly.com
 F18-flutemetamol (PET imaging agent) GE Healthcare Waukesha, WI  Alzheimer’s disease (diagnosis)  application submitted http://www.gehealthcare.com
 pioglitazone companion diagnostic (AD4833/TOMM40)  akeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Deerfield, IL Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals Chapel Hill, NC  T Alzheimer’s disease (diagnosis)  Phase III http://www.takeda.com
 tau imaging agent (PET imaging agent)  Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Philadelphia, PA Eli Lilly Indianapolis, IN Alzheimer’s disease (diagnosis) Phase I http://www.lilly.com

Challenges in Alzheimers Clinical Trials

There are several unique challenges researchers face when recruiting patients for Alzheimer’s disease clini- cal trials, both in terms of preventative studies, which recruit patients who have not yet shown symptoms for Alzheimer’s, and treatment clinical studies, which require patient participants, many of whom are already suffer- ing from diminished decision-making skills. Some of the challenges specific to treatment trials include:

  • Recruiting and retaining clinical trial participants (currently the greatest obstacle to developing new Alzheimer’s treatments).
  • Acquiring the necessary increased funding for clinical trials—both federal and private.
  • Gaining informed consent from patients who are already suffering from the effects of the disease.
  • Involving caregivers in research trials, which can add an extra burden to their daily routine.

Ways to join the fight against Alzheimer’s disease during June:

  • Share the facts – Post and tweet about Alzheimer’s disease and brain risk throughout the month. If you have a brain, you are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Be social – Turn Facebook purple using an END ALZ graphic as your profile picture.
  • Go purple – Wear purple all month but especially on Saturday, June 21, the longest day of the year, to support those facing the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease every day.
  • Use your brain to fight Alzheimer’s disease – Become an Alzheimer’s advocate and write your members of Congress to ask for more federal funding for Alzheimer’s research.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, how to get involved and purple gear, visit alz.org/abam.