Why is research collaboration so important? Senior researcher Professor Julie Williams gives her view.
For the last 25 years my team at Cardiff
University has been focused on trying to find genes that affect a person’s risk
of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Over the years we have formed ever larger
collaborations, first within the UK and then with colleagues in Europe and the
USA. This partnership work has led to the discovery of over 40 susceptibility
genes, giving us a much clearer understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.
As a result of this work and the vast
amounts of genetic data we have collected and analysed, we are now able to
predict whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease with reasonable
Vice Chair of ADI, takes a personal view on psychosocial dementia research.
It’s a sad fact
that, to date, not much in the Alzheimer research world has been considered
“groundbreaking”. The development
of cholinesterase inhibitors certainly marked some progress but, while those medications can help
with symptoms, they bear no resemblance to an effective treatment. And that’s
where we are today in 2019. Sure, there have been some research and clinical trials,
showing the usual “promising results” but these promises are often modest at
To my way of
thinking, any breakthroughs will likely come through psychosocial not
biomedical research. And when I think of quality of life breakthroughs, one
immediately comes to mind.
We created the
series to provide a unique opportunity for the public and Alzheimer and
dementia associations to engage directly with health and social care professionals,
as well as companies involved in dementia research.
As far as we know, no other webinar has provided such ‘public to
professional’ access before.
We heard from the pharmaceutical industry, researchers and
clinicians conducting research and clinical trials, as well as primary care
health professionals supporting patients and families. Most importantly,
we heard stories of people living with dementia and their care partners about
their lived experience.
Almost 50 million people worldwide now have dementia, and it is estimated that 60-70% of them are living with Alzheimer’s disease. There have been no new drugs approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s since 2003 and the community of people with dementia and their families, researchers, clinicians and Alzheimer associations globally are eagerly looking for some good news. The International Congress on Clinical Trials for Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) is always a good place to get an overview of what is in the pipeline and the 9th CTAD took place last week in the city of San Diego in South California, USA.
There are a number of possible new treatments being developed for which people have high expectations. Eli Lilly and Company reported two weeks ago that the results in a second phase III trial of solanezumab were negative. Lilly used the conference to present the data of the study in more detail and this was followed by a panel discussion between experts.
Data from the study showed that participants who used the medication showed a slight improvement on a number of measures compared to those that received a placebo, but the difference was not big enough to be significant. That means that the result of the study was negative and Lilly will not put solanezumab forward for approval.
The mood at the conference was of high disappointment, but at the same time not giving up for the future.
Lilly deserved credit from the audience for the sober and honest way the data was presented. The scientific community will now further debate what these results indicate for the directions to take the search for a cure for dementia including Alzheimer’s Disease. The mood at the conference was of disappointment, but at the same time of not giving up for the future.