Latest drug trial results

From Care and cure magazine - Autumn 2015, find out about drug trial news from 2015.

The world's largest dementia research event, the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC), was held in Washington in July with over 4,500 dementia researchers gathering to share their latest findings.

The biggest announcement at the conference was about a trial of the drug solanezumab, produced by Lilly. The results suggest that this drug could be the first to tackle the disease rather than simply treating the symptoms. However, the way that the trial was carried out meant that its findings can only be considered as preliminary. A larger trial with a more robust design is expected to announce its results in 2017.

Results for similar drugs from other pharmaceutical companies were also presented. An analysis of data from a trial for Roche's gantenerumab, which was stopped late last year, indicated there was an effect in people whose disease progressed more quickly. This suggests that the dose given may not be high enough and the duration of the trial not long enough to see effects in everyone given the drug. 

Additional results from an early‑stage trial of aducanumab from Biogen showed that a moderate dose helped to reduce the side effects seen with a higher dose, but did not show an improvement in thinking and memory. This is now being fast‑tracked to a phase three trial with more people, where any effects on cognition will be more apparent.

Academic researchers also presented their results across a wide range of research. A popular topic of study was risk factors, with research into type 1 diabetes, physical activity, loneliness and low grades at school to see their effects on dementia and cognition. Physical activity was a popular area and researchers also presented findings that it is beneficial for people who already have dementia or mild cognitive impairment.

Although research on imaging and trials for Alzheimer's disease filled a large portion of the schedule, the prominence of other fields signified the need for attention to all areas of dementia research.

There were sessions devoted to frontotemporal dementia and psychosocial interventions, while those on dementia care research and practice covered health economics, epidemiology and psychosocial factors among other subjects.

The technology and dementia 'preconference' drew its biggest ever crowd to discuss big data, assistive technology and even smartphone apps to motivate lifestyle changes.