Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy provides a major forum for research into Alzheimer’s disease, from basic research with a translational focus, to clinical trials, drug discovery and development, and epidemiological studies. In 2013, the journal became affiliated with Alzheimer’s Disease International, a federation of Alzheimer’s associations providing a global voice for the dementia community. As part of Brain Awareness Week, in-house Editor for Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy Kathryn Smith asked the journal’s Editors-in-Chief – Philip Scheltens, Todd Golde and Douglas Galasko – for their views on recent advances in the field and future directions.
Philip Scheltens commented on how hopes for the effective use of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in the clinic could soon be realised:
“In the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and especially in the lives of people with AD or a preclinical stage of AD, the biggest impact has been and will be, the use of biomarkers for diagnosis. While cerebrospinal fluid has brought us much insight into the underlying process of AD long before clinical symptoms, its clinical use has been limited due to several patient and lab related reasons. This will change now several amyloid PET (positron emission tomography) ligands have been approved by the authorities and will soon enter the clinical arena. Clinical utility studies, although few in number, have all shown that clinical diagnosis and confidence in clinical diagnosis change by using these new PET methods.”
Scheltens is Professor of Cognitive Neurology and Director of the Alzheimer Center at the VU University Medical Center, the Netherlands, where he obtained both his medical degree and PhD. His main clinical and research interests are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, magnetic resonance imaging, PET imaging and biomarkers.
From biomarker development to the latest clinical trials, we asked Todd Golde what he thought was the most important recent development in Alzheimer’s research:
“The launch of early intervention/prevention trials with trigger targeting therapies. It is generally acknowledged that Alzheimer’s disease is an insidious process that has a long silent phase during which pathology builds long before symptoms. Trials that attempt to intervene much earlier in the disease process by targeting the initiating pathologies are much more likely to have greater efficacy.”
Todd Golde also hails from a clinical background, obtaining his medical degree and later PhD at Case Western Reserve University, USA. He is currently Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Florida, USA. Research in the Golde lab aims to develop ‘proof of concept’ for novel therapeutic strategies for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Fellow clinician-researcher Douglas Galasko highlighted the role biomarkers have to play in facilitating prevention trials:
“Using biomarkers related to brain pathology and biochemistry has enabled a more detailed timeline of preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease to be charted. This has paved the road for the first wave of prevention trials that aim to influence the build-up of pathology.”
Galasko serves as Director of the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of California San Diego, USA, and is also a neurologist at the VA Medical Center, La Jolla, USA. Galasko’s research interests encompass both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, with a focus on developing biological markers and improving clinical diagnosis.