Source: Healio Interview


Disclosures: Weber reports no relevant financial disclosures.
June 24, 2021
4 min read
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Alzheimer’s Association: ‘We are getting closer to our goals’

Source: Healio Interview


Disclosures: Weber reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, an observance recognized each year by the CDC and other organizations to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

About 50 million people worldwide live with one of these neurological disorders, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, Christopher Weber, PhD, the association’s director of Global Science Initiatives, told Healio Primary Care.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association:, 50 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
Reference: The Alzheimer's Association

Primary care physicians play a critical role in keeping those numbers as low as possible, according to Weber.

Christopher Weber

“When people have a memory complaint, we want the primary care community to be skilled and capable of detecting possible cognitive impairment and diagnosing the cause, but also understand that they can refer individuals to specialists for further tests, if needed,” he said in the interview.

The Alzheimer's Association and Congress collaborated to help develop the National Alzheimer's Project Act, according to the association. This 2012 initiative includes goals of preventing and “effectively” treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, maximizing care quality and efficiency for those with the disease, broadening support options for those with the disease and their families, according to HHS' website. 

There have been notable developments in brain health over the past 12 months, including the FDA’s recent approval of Aduhelm (aducanumab, Biogen/Eisai), Weber said.

“There are so many developments that are giving us hope. We are getting closer to our goals,” Weber said. “The pipeline is full of new and exciting therapeutic targets that are moving forward in research and clinical trial phases.”

One particularly promising area is biomarker research, which could lead to the development of a blood test ascertaining Alzheimer’s disease risk, Weber said.

“Discovering biomarkers that are less expensive, less invasive and more accessible [would make] us able to do a blood test,” he said. “This would be the holy grail of being able to detect Alzheimer’s disease early.”

Overall, Weber said it is “an exciting time for the Alzheimer’s research community.” Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, “the research really hasn’t stopped and has gone forward in many directions,” he continued.

In recognition of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, below are 10 recent updates in these diseases. In addition, be sure to watch for Healio’s coverage of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July.

Plasma phosphorylated-tau217 shows promise as biomarker for early Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers have detected plasma phosphorylated-tau217 in the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease, indicating that this protein could be a biomarker for early disease pathology, according to findings published in JAMA Neurology. Read more.

Dementia risk likely measurable among adolescents, young adults

Alzheimer’s dementia risk factors may be measurable among adolescents and young adults, according to data presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020. Read more.

Targeting 10 risk factors may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have identified 10 risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease that clinicians can target with preventive measures, according to results of a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Read more.

PCPs ‘first line’ of defense against projected increase in neurological disorders

Researchers observed a U-shaped trend in age-adjusted mortality rates from neurological disorders from 1999 to 2017. The recent upward trend suggests these disorders are an “imminent threat to public health,” they wrote in JAMA Neurology. Read more.

Alzheimer’s prevalence in women may be due to hormonal changes

The increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in women may be due to hormonal changes that occur during menopause, according to a study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Read more.

PCPs need to know more about pain treatment in Alzheimer’s disease, experts say

About half of patients with Alzheimer’s disease experience back pain, but only eight North American medical schools offer courses on geriatric pain, data show. Read more.

Donanemab demonstrates mixed results for early Alzheimer’s disease, requires further study

Donanemab, an investigational antibody that targets a modified form of beta amyloid, yielded “modestly less” cognitive and functional decline than placebo among patients with early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease in a phase 2 trial. Read more.

Masitinib demonstrates efficacy, safety in Alzheimer’s disease

Masitinib, an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor, improved measures of cognition, memory and activities of daily living in a phase 2b/3 study of patients with mild and moderate Alzheimer’s disease, according to a press release. Read more.

FDA approves Aduhelm, first new Alzheimer's disease treatment since 2003

Earlier this month, the FDA granted accelerated approval for aducanumab, the first new treatment to be approved for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003. The drug is also the first to target the “fundamental pathophysiology” of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a press release from the FDA. Read more.

COVID-19 may disproportionately affect patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted research, outcomes, long-term care and disparities related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, according to presenters at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020. Read more.

References:

Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Available at: https://www.alz.org/abam/overview.asp. Accessed June 18, 2021.

CDC.gov. June National Health Observances: Alzheimer’s Disease, Sickle Cell Disease, HIV Testing, and More! Available at: https://health.gov/news/202105/june-national-health-observances-alzheimers-disease-sickle-cell-disease-hiv-testing-and-more. Accessed June 21, 2021.

HHS Office of Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. National Plans to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. Available at: https://aspe.hhs.gov/napa-national-plans. Accessed June 24, 2021.