University College London School of Pharmacy highlights hope for Alzheimer’s research in New Year Lecture

Written by Alice Weatherston

In the annual University College London (UCL, UK) School of Pharmacy New Year Lecture taking place later this evening, John Hardy (UCL) will discuss ‘Pathways to Neurodegeneration’ and our growing understanding of the pathology, genetics and treatment options for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Given the increased research and funding in the field over the past few years Hardy believes that: “In the coming year we will know if we are already at the start of a new era of better treatments for slowing or stopping the development of Alzheimer’s disease and allied neurodegenerative disorders.”
John Hardy will discuss the important role identification of key genes related to disease development and progression has played in advancing our understanding of Alzheimer’s and other key neurodegenerative diseases, ultimately dictating the ability to design appropriate and effective treatments. To date, genes have been identified and specifically linked to the build-up of amyloid plaques, the immune response to amyloid as well as brain cholesterol metabolism.

Particular focus has been on the development of drugs targeting the characteristic amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s and much interest and hope has been placed on the results of two key trials, for which results are due within the next 2 years. Most notably, solanezumab and aducanumab.

Simon Ridley (Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Research Director) who will also be a discussant at the New Year Lecture reinforced this optimism with regards to treatment development and highlighted ARUK’s dedication to this through their recent announcement of funding for new dedicated Drug Discovery Institutes at the University of Cambridge (UK), University of Oxford (UK) and UCL. The project is designed to aid the transition of research into the pharmaceutical industry where previous failures have created concern over investment.

In light of patients with Alzheimer’s disease potentially living for longer, Ridley also highlighted the need for development of effective symptomatic treatments, and Gill Morgan (Chair, NHS-providers), also in attendance, enforced the need for greater integration between the health system and social care to ensure cost-effective and high-quality care for individuals with dementia.

“I am confident that over the next decade or so we will find more effective ways of preventing or slowing the dementias. By 2050 such advances should be benefiting at least a million people a year in the UK, and tens of millions worldwide,” commented John Hardy.

Source: University College London School of Pharmacy press release