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35 partners from industry and academia to join European research initiative for the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia

The members of the EPAD initiative have announced the start of a novel collaboration between academic and private sectors to test innovative treatments for the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Previous attempts to bring new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease to the market have been disappointing despite a high level of investment. However, the realisation that Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder and that early intervention may be more effective has led to research efforts being focused on prevention. The goal of the initiative is the prevention of dementia in people with evidence of the disease (such as biomarker abnormalities as identified by specific tests), who still may have little or no complaints or clinical symptoms.

“EPAD is part of a global initiative that will make a fundamental difference to the understanding and management of Alzheimer’s disease in people with very early or no symptoms at all. This could be a game-changer. It is only possible because of the absolute commitment of academics, industry, policy makers and the public to work hand in hand to defeat this global threat”, said Prof Craig Ritchie, EPAD Co-coordinator and Professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh.

New tools and methods now allow the identification of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This creates an opportunity to have new treatment options investigated in clinical studies early on. A difficulty however remains with the large number of patients and study sites needed to confirm a therapeutic effect within a limited span of time. In contrast to several pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions pursuing this in isolation, a joint effort clearly has advantages: the identification and referral of the concerned patients is accelerated and several treatment options can be tested rapidly within one same trial.

Therefore, EPAD aims to develop a platform using existing information from national or regional patient cohorts or register studies, which have already identified potential patients.

Through EPAD, the undertaking of better, adaptive, multi-arm proof of concept studies for early and accurate decisions on the ongoing development of drug candidates or drug combinations is facilitated.

“Preventing the development of dementia in biomarker-positive people would be a fantastic step forward in our fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The EPAD and its novel trial concept will hopefully help speed up the drug discovery progress and bring us closer to this ambitious aim”, said Jean Georges, Executive Director of Alzheimer Europe.

All data collected from the cohort and trial will become publically available for analysis to improve disease models in the pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease.